Henin 'nothing to prove' at Aussie Open - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Henin 'nothing to prove' at Aussie Open

By David Beniuk 09/01/2008 08:06:40 PM Comments (0)

World No.1 Justine Henin says she has nothing to prove at the Australian Open after her notorious exit from the final with injury when she last played at Melbourne Park two years ago.

Henin infamously pulled the plug during the 2006 decider against Amelie Mauresmo and did not play in last year's opening grand slam event for personal reasons.

"I feel really comfortable about what happened and I have no regrets," she said.

"I wanted this title so much so it was tough, but I don't have anything to prove to anyone."

The Belgian showed no rust when she played her first match since mid November, crushing Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-2 6-0 at the Sydney International to firm up her favouritism for the Open.

The win was Henin's 26th straight and her 42nd from 43 matches since she began a golden run with a third consecutive French Open title in June.

But she downplayed her favouritism for Melbourne, saying the first grand slam of the year was the most unpredictable.

"As the No.1 player in the world I can understand that everyone sees me as the favourite," she said.

"I'm really focused on myself and I just try to do my best and be well prepared and just give 200 per cent on the court.

"We'll see what's going to happen. A grand slam is long ... It's a long story, I can tell you, so you must go step by step and match after match."

Henin said being No.1 meant her opponents lifted when they played her.

"Everyone loves to play the No.1 player in the world because there's less pressure on them when they play me, and I can feel it," she said.

"They always have a better level, which is interesting and very exciting for me because it's always a good challenge to keep my ranking and to improve.

"I'm the No.1 player in the world but that's not the most important thing. I just want to be a better player this year. That's it."

The heavyweights of the women's game all stepped up, with wins in Sydney also for world No.2 Svetlana Kuznetsova and No.4 Ana Ivanovic.

Kuznetsova's form was also imposing as she demolished Italian Francesca Schiavone 6-4 6-0.

Ivanovic downed Slovenia's Katarina Srebotnik in three sets, 6-3 3-6 6-2.

Ivanovic will next meet Henin in Thursday's first semi-final, while Kuznetsova will play the winner of the match between 2007 finalist Jelena Jankovic and Czech Nicole Vaidisova.

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