Henin-Hardenne wins Sydney tennis title - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Henin-Hardenne wins Sydney tennis title

By Darren Walton 13/01/2006 11:28:49 PM Comments (0)

Justine Henin-Hardenne completed the perfect Australian Open preparation with another triumphant campaign at the Sydney International.

Henin-Hardenne was serving for the championship at 6-5 and 15-love in the third set against Francesca Schiavone when the heavens opened and forced a temporary suspension of play at Olympic Park.

But the former world No.1 returned to finish off a signature fightback to shatter Schiavone's dream of becoming the first Italian to win the 121-year-old tournament formerly known as the NSW Open, winning 4-6 7-5 7-5.

After dropping the first set 6-4, Henin-Hardenne recovered from 4-1 down to take the second set 7-5 to level the match against an opponent known to be suspect on big occasions.

Schiavone had lost all five of her previous finals but should have broken her title drought after establishing a 5-3 lead in the deciding set.

Alas, in a match that featured 10 service breaks, Schiavone dropped serve at the most inopportune of times at 5-5 in the third.

The slip-up was enough for Henin-Hardenne to capitalise and extend her winning streak on Australian hard courts to 15 matches.

The victory was the ideal build-up for Henin-Hardenne as she eyes a fifth grand slam crown at the Australian Open.

The Belgian will be returning to Melbourne Park for the first time since walking away with the trophy in 2004.

A knee injury denied the world No.8 the chance to defend her titles at both the Australian Open and Sydney International last year.

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