The Difference Between Justin Henin and Kim Clijsters

by The Insider on February 5, 2010 · 2 comments

in WTA News


After the Australian Open, I cannot help but notice patchy opinions and comparisons of the great players, that in my attempt to analyze the differences.

Kim Clijsters:

Ranking when retired: 4

Retired / Comeback: May 2007 / Mid 2009

1st tournament: QF defeated by Safina

2nd tournament: 3rd round by Jankovic

3rd tournament: Champion

Playing style: Baseline basher / deep ground strokes

Pressure: no expectations

Justine Henin:

Ranking when retired: 1

Retired / Comeback: Mid 2008 / Jan 2010

1st tournament: Final defeated by Clijsters

2nd tournament: Final defeated by Williams

3rd tournament: ?

Playing style: Variety with precision

Pressure: Huge pressure to replicate Kim

If by looking at the facts, Kim has come back strong as first appearance in grand slam, but far from it that Henin is less impressive in the second tournament only.  No doubts Clijsters’ form was seemingly better when she played in US open but her style of playing is probably easier to pick up in a shorter timeframe backed with strong physical training, as opposed to Henin’s style which needs to come with time to tune in the accuracy of each shot in her complexity of game plan.

On the other hand, Clijsters came back without much expectation of winning as a wildcard by others, as such that with her brilliance she stormed everyone by surprise when she reached the final and passed through Serena.  By the time Henin arrived to Australian Open, all eyes were on her to make the same progress.  But mind you, then everyone on tour was alert on this potential dangerous wildcard, with Serena especially increased additional training on the morning of their final.

Not to mention the road to QF in the first week was especially testing for Henin to beat very strong and upcoming players, than those of Clijsters on route to US open’s 2nd week.  The winning of the final often depends on who your opponent is.  Caroline, the first time finalist compared to Serena, who flourishes and plays her best at final.

The pressure on Henin was, thus far from anyone could bear, being known and kept advertised as the former number 1 to do a miracle on her second tournament back.  With that mental and physical torture, how she was able to still stay focused and at ease with herself and played with such sparks on court, that in itself speaks volume.

And what about Williams when everyone seems to be showering praises that she is greatest ever?  Who could remember when Williams came out from injuries in 2004, it took her some time, actually years to recover her form and regained number one again in September 2008 after Henin retired.

Then, given the magnificent runs of the two Belgians, why is everyone urging them to be at the top of rank again within a year?  My only answer is that if people are longing to give the number one to someone more worthy?  Or purely women’s tennis was at such a stale stage that people are yearning for some quality games and change of hands at the very top?

Be patient, and there time will tell (and it is too early to tell), if any one of the Belgians will be able to return to top form consistently in the coming years and if Williams will not be threaten by them.  My bet is, Henin has the mind and body to come back stronger than ever.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Marine March 3, 2010 at 1:08 am

I completely agree with you. Justine’s comeback has been the most impressive on tour. She had to deal with a lot of pressure, some of which, I believe was a result of Kim’s great performance in the US Open. Afer Brisbane the expectations only rose and the match with Clisjters was amazing, it had a level of a grand slam final. I was impressed by her AO performance as well, and I find it quite crazy they didn’t give her a seed. Henin was wronged a lot in that tournament which just shows off the disrespect of the organisers. Henin was the last true champion who dominated the tour.
finally someone noted the difference in the comebacks of Williamses and the Belgian players. Yes, Serenagot to no.1 but even though she won majors she performed so poorly anywhere else she lost her ranking to players with no/fewer slams several times. Speaks volumes about quality…
I think in their comeback Justine will continue to dominate, was it not for the nerves she’d have two titles now. Nevermind, it’s a great comeback which will give tennis it’s former decency.


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