Sharapova ends Henin's winning streak - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sharapova ends Henin's winning streak

By Guy Hand 22/01/2008 11:07:52 PM Comments (0)

Maria Sharapova ran the wrecking ball through Justine Henin's aura of tennis invincibility, dismantling the world No.1 and her 32-match winning streak with an exceptional Australian Open quarter-final win.

Sharapova played tennis of the highest quality to beat Henin 6-4 6-0 at Rod Laver Arena and stamp herself a firm favourite for the women's singles crown.

The fifth seed blasted out of the blocks, breaking Henin in her opening service game.

Sharapova then unleashed a constant flow of backhand winners and passing shots - all accompanied by her trademark grunt - to leave the Belgian groaning.

"It was one of the most consistent matches I've ever played," Sharapova said.

"I did all the things I wanted to do and did them correctly. I played the way I wanted to play."

That "way" was with a game of power and finesse - featuring an array of deadly new shots - far removed from the meek surrender on centre court to Serena Williams in last year's Australian Open final.

Sharapova had only beaten Henin twice in eight career meetings until Tuesday.

So perhaps the most telling moment of the night came when she held her nerve late in the first set when Henin broke Sharapova to claw back to 5-4 down.

The Russian then failed to convert three set points on Henin's serve, but didn't panic.

Instead she made the fourth set point pay to take the opening set in just over one hour.

Sharapova upped the level again in the second set, racing to a 4-0 lead with two successive service breaks and further top-notch tennis to close out the match in an hour and 38 minutes.

It was Henin's first defeat since the Wimbledon semi-finals in July last year when she was upset by France's Marion Bartoli.

Third seed Jelena Jankovic, who beat defending champion Williams in straight sets earlier, awaits Sharapova in the semi-finals.

Henin believes Sharapova, whose two grand slam titles were at Wimbledon in 2004 and the US Open in 2006, is now a deserving favourite to add this year's Australian Open to her resume.

"She played a very high level of tennis. I just wasn't good enough. She did everything better than me today," Henin said.

"She's in great shape. She has a great chance to win it."

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