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Lionheart392
05-06-2009, 06:31 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtrYiXq0IBA
I was watching this interview with Martina Navratilova and she makes the interesting comment that in her opinion, Justine Henin's game was best suited to grass so the fact that she never won Wimbledon was puzzling to her. Also I'm pretty sure she says that power is not as effective on grass, but I thought powerful play was best suited for grass? :confused:
Anyway most people seem to regard grass as Henin's weakest surface, so do you disagree with Martina, or do you think she's right and Henin's inability to win Wimbledon was more of a mental issue?

Warriorroger
05-06-2009, 09:07 AM
Probably and the fact that you have be a natural athlete to win it. IMO (even though she has a beauty of a backhand) she is/was very mechanical with her strokes. Grass bounces differently. Graf and Borg were better athletes than they were tennisplayers, that's why they won. Navratilova/Sampras are true grasscourt players and Federer hngs between the two couples.

Going back to Henin, I still think clay suits her game best.

shell
05-06-2009, 09:18 AM
I agree with Martina. The fact that Justine never won Wimbly is just mind boggling to me. But I think it was several things together.

1) She generally did so well at RG that it was tough for her. She always admitted how emotionally and physically spent she was after GSs.

2) She liked a bit more time to construct her points and shots. The grass was fast. But she had the game for it, especially late in her career. She shorten her forehand, improved her serve and fought off her tendency to stay safe on the baseline. Her US Open '07 form would have won her a Wimbly I will always believe.

3) Mental. I'm not sure she was ever confident there. That is why she kept playing the warm up in Eastbourn even though it wore her out. She just always felt like she needed matches on grass. BTW, if you want to see a great women's grass match, watch the Eastbourn '07 final, Justine vs. Amelie. Wonderful tennis.

I will always wonder about that Wimbly '06 final. Justine should have had that one. And I will always wonder if she would have taken out Venus in '07 if she could have gotten to the finals. Oh well....

scotus
05-06-2009, 10:28 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtrYiXq0IBA
I was watching this interview with Martina Navratilova and she makes the interesting comment that in her opinion, Justine Henin's game was best suited to grass so the fact that she never won Wimbledon was puzzling to her. Also I'm pretty sure she says that power is not as effective on grass, but I thought powerful play was best suited for grass? :confused:
Anyway most people seem to regard grass as Henin's weakest surface, so do you disagree with Martina, or do you think she's right and Henin's inability to win Wimbledon was more of a mental issue?

Navratilova did not say that grass suited Justine better than clay or other surfaces.

What Navratilova did say is that out of the female pros competing, Justine was the best suited to win on grass along with the Williams sisters, because she has the complete game to do well there (Navratilova provides examples such as movement, volley, slice backhand, etc).

Lionheart392
05-06-2009, 11:09 AM
Navratilova did not say that grass suited Justine better than clay or other surfaces.

What Navratilova did say is that out of the female pros competing, Justine was the best suited to win on grass along with the Williams sisters, because she has the complete game to do well there (Navratilova provides examples such as movement, volley, slice backhand, etc).

I'm pretty sure she does say 'and yet to me her game is best suited to the grass' when saying that Wimbledon is the only slam Justine has not won, implying that her game is indeed better suited to grass than the other surfaces. If I recall another time when asked who the greatest grass court player of this generation is, she said something like 'I should be saying Justine Henin...', which goes along with that (she then picked Venus Williams).

boredone3456
05-06-2009, 11:29 AM
While it is surprsing Henin never won Wimbledon (I think 2006 still aggravtes her, it was her best shot). Her game was not best suited to grass. She was a clay court Demon. Granted, she could play well on all surfaces but grass was the one on which she always seemed the most uncomfortable and on which she struggled the most. For instance, the 2007 Wimbledon quarterfinal where an injured Serena still pushed her to three, on any other surface Henin would have probably annihilated her. Grass was where she most vulnerable, I doubt she would have been handed a breadstick by Bartoli on any other surface either. I guess I disagree with Martina....Justine's best surface was clay, she was so good at executing her game there, on grass that was not the case.

bluetrain4
05-06-2009, 11:55 AM
I don't know if Henin's game is tailor-made for grass, but she was very good on grass and has the results (Wimbledon final, other deep runs) to prove it.

A couple of things stick out as to why she didn't win Wimbledon:

(1) mental - whether self doubt or simply exhaustion, who knows. Yeah, Bartoli played great that day, but Henin absolutely melted down. And she did so on at least one other occasion. Henin was always a little Jekyll and Hyde in my opinion in regards to her mental stength in big matches. Seventy-five percent of the time, she was a mental giant, no one competed harder, was as intense, could come up with big shots when she needed them. The rest of the time, she was prone to have mental lapeses and meltdowns befitting of someone like Hantuchova or Sabatini. Very odd to see someone exhibit both ends of the spectrum.

(2) The Williams sisters. Love them, hate them, completely don't care about them, the fact remains that they're great on grass. And, if you can get through one, the other one's still in the draw.

(3) Luck (or more appropriately bad luck). In 2006, she played very well, even in the final. Mauresmo was known for getting tight in big matches and her only Slam win at that point came at the AO when Justine retired. Yes, Amelie had played great up to that point in the AO final and very well may have won anyway, but she didn't have to go through the pressure of actually closing out the match.

So, you might think Mauresmo would get tight at Wimbledon. But, no, she brings her "A" game, plays great, and keeps her nerves in check. It happens to most top players - they run into someone who is hot and doesn't cool off. That's just day to day tennis. That match was close. If Henin would have been "lucky" enough for Mauresmo to even play a couple of games of "tight" tennis as Mauresmo had in past big matches, Henin may very well have a Wimbledon tropy.

grafrules
05-06-2009, 03:40 PM
It is surprising she never won Wimbledon for sure. Her biggest blown opportunities are definitely 2006 and 2007, either year she had a real shot of winning. However the concept grass is her best surface or the surface best suited to her game is far from the truth IMO. I am going to have to strongly disagree with Navratilova on this point of view. Grass was always her worst surface by a long ways.

pc1
05-06-2009, 04:26 PM
I guess Martina thought Henin, with her one hander, slice backhand and good volley would seen ideal for grass. Makes some sense but it's hard to beat the Williams.

grafselesfan
05-06-2009, 04:31 PM
During her prime from 2004-2007 Henin never lost to a Williams sister at Wimbledon. She lost to other players or didnt even play (2005). So the Williams really had almost nothing to do with her not winning Wimbledon, especialy since she pretty much owned the suddenly declining Williams the bit they did play once Henin became a real champion. In her early pre prime years she often lost to then peak Venus but she was weak enough around then she would have lost to other players anyway. In 2001 Davenport would have just pounded her and easily won the title if Venus wasnt around. In 2002 if both Williams were not around Mauresmo probably takes it. Justine's only big wins at those Wimbledons were Capriati and a nearly retired Seles, not exactly amazing wins on grass. In 2003 I actually think she would have beaten either an injured Venus or Clijsters to win it without Serena around. That is the only case however.

scotus
05-06-2009, 05:11 PM
I'm pretty sure she does say 'and yet to me her game is best suited to the grass' when saying that Wimbledon is the only slam Justine has not won, implying that her game is indeed better suited to grass than the other surfaces. If I recall another time when asked who the greatest grass court player of this generation is, she said something like 'I should be saying Justine Henin...', which goes along with that (she then picked Venus Williams).


You've got to hear it again in context and pay attention to the bold-faced text below.

Navratilova is moaning the departure of Justine, because Justine was a complete all-court player who set herself apart from the baseline power players:

"It is too bad Justine didn’t find it in her heart or in her soul to find that passion for just a couple of months and see if she can win Wimbledon, as again she would have been one of the handful of women to have won all four grand slams. It is the only one that’s missing.
Yet to me her game is best suited to grass compared to everybody else, 'cause she can serve and volley, she can come to the net, she’s got that slice backhand, moves so well. Power does not play as well on the grass as it does on the other surfaces. Yet it is the only one she has not won."

Obviously Navratilova is giving Justine's grass-court game some really high marks, and I concede that you are certainly right to infer that Justine's game is better suited to grass than hard courts where power players dominate, but to interpret this statement to mean that her game was better-suited to grass than to clay is tantamount to putting words into Navratilova's mouth. Notice that in the next segment, Navratilova goes on to say that Wimbledon favors big servers and good athletes. While Justine fits the latter category, her game is not really known for big serves.

grafselesfan
05-06-2009, 05:18 PM
The thing is Justine's main game by the time she reached her prime was predominantly the same power game that the big babes played. She was one of if not the hardest hitter in the womens game from 2004-2007, especialy with Serena no longer at her peak and Davenport getting old/injury prone. When she was up and coming she played a versatile and more tactical game but as that wasnt getting her far enough in todays game she sort of said "screw it" and just transformed herself to a full blown power player which contradicted her small stature, alot of that with an insane training regimen she began in 2003 which even led to her being plagued with a virus for alot of 2004 and 2005. What sets her apart from alot of the other power hitters is she moves really well, is pretty consistent without the high UE counts, and has reasonably good mental toughness (not great but better than most of the ones today). The same things that are setting Serena even past her prime and grossly overweight apart from the current crop of power hitters.

Justine's best surface was clearly clearly, but she was also clearly better on hard courts than grass. She wasnt losing to the likes of Marion Bartoli or Elena Daniliidou at the U.S or Australian Opens, not even in her pre prime contending years.

shell
05-06-2009, 05:23 PM
Oh, I think Justine had a big serve late in her career. But it was somewhat predictable. Her MPH were right up there with the best, but she was prone to patterns and also DFs.

grafselesfan
05-06-2009, 05:27 PM
Well I am talking about her ground game and overall game more than specifically her serve. Her serve was never amazing, reliable, or very well varied, another reason why it is very logical she never won Wimbledon where the serve is more important than any other event.

shell
05-06-2009, 05:49 PM
Well I am talking about her ground game and overall game more than specifically her serve. Her serve was never amazing, reliable, or very well varied, another reason why it is very logical she never won Wimbledon where the serve is more important than any other event.

Yeah, I was responding to the post above your last one.

But I still disagree that it was logical that she never won Wimbly. I think her return was good enough to balance out some of the big serving. An '06 or '07 matchup with Venus would have been interesting I think, because of this. The Bartoli match was not lost on serves/returns. Justine got outgunned on the baseline from what I remember. No different than any other big hitter could do to her on a very good day from them.

boredone3456
05-06-2009, 05:51 PM
Henin definitely evolved into more of a power player in her prime years. Especially on Hard Courts and Grass. The only surface on which her tactical sense dominantly showed during her later years was really Clay. On hardcourts and grass she hit with more power than tactic. Watching the 2001 and 2006 Wimbledon finals its sort of like watching 2 different women, at times she was playing completely opposite styles. I wish she had kept her tactical sense into her prime years on all surfaces. Had she she might have won Wimbledon.

grafselesfan
05-06-2009, 05:52 PM
Justine should never be getting outgunned by fat fluke Bartoli even on grass. Bartoli's main game is a mediocre caliber power hitter, but Bartoli is the same player she hit 34 winners to 2 against Henin when they played at the WTA Championships. That was just a pathetic performance and mental collapse on Henin's part. Overall I see what you are saying though.

shell
05-06-2009, 06:08 PM
Justine should never be getting outgunned by fat fluke Bartoli even on grass. Bartoli's main game is a mediocre caliber power hitter, but Bartoli is the same player she hit 34 winners to 2 against Henin when they played at the WTA Championships. That was just a pathetic performance and mental collapse on Henin's part. Overall I see what you are saying though.

Totally agree, which is why the YEC match vs. Bartoli was so fun to watch. I believe that was a statement, in the pure sense of the word. And the grass loss was a fluke, which I think does not measure her potential on grass.

bluetrain4
05-06-2009, 08:58 PM
During her prime from 2004-2007 Henin never lost to a Williams sister at Wimbledon. She lost to other players or didnt even play (2005). So the Williams really had almost nothing to do with her not winning Wimbledon, especialy since she pretty much owned the suddenly declining Williams the bit they did play once Henin became a real champion. In her early pre prime years she often lost to then peak Venus but she was weak enough around then she would have lost to other players anyway. In 2001 Davenport would have just pounded her and easily won the title if Venus wasnt around. In 2002 if both Williams were not around Mauresmo probably takes it. Justine's only big wins at those Wimbledons were Capriati and a nearly retired Seles, not exactly amazing wins on grass. In 2003 I actually think she would have beaten either an injured Venus or Clijsters to win it without Serena around. That is the only case however.

That's true about Henin not actually losing to the Williams at Wimbledon in her prime (she did, of course, lose to Venus before her prime) But, I put the Williams as a reason for her not winning, because they were still an obstacle in the sense that they were in their prime (at least one was every year) on grass, so even if Henin would not have been upset in any particular year, she would still have to, very likley, face one of the Williams (more likely Venus) who could be superior grass court players.

grafselesfan
05-06-2009, 09:16 PM
That's true about Henin not actually losing to the Williams at Wimbledon in her prime (she did, of course, lose to Venus before her prime) But, I put the Williams as a reason for her not winning, because they were still an obstacle in the sense that they were in their prime (at least one was every year) on grass, so even if Henin would not have been upset in any particular year, she would still have to, very likley, face one of the Williams (more likely Venus) who could be superior grass court players.

Fair enough. Since Serena went 0-3 vs Henin in slams in 2007, and Serena was playing better in 2007 than she did in any of 2004, 2005, 2006, I am not really sure Serena would have mattered much. Then again Serena was injured in their 2007 match, a legit injury too not just a fantom Serena injury which she has many of, and still it was a 3 setter unlike the spankings she received by Justine at both the French and U.S Opens that year. So who knows I suppose, although 2004 and 2007 are the only years from 2004-2007 she factored into Wimbledon at all, 2007 lost to Justine anyway, and 2004 was spanked by 17 year old Sharapova and would have lost to Mauresmo in the semis that year with Mauresmo's choking. As I mentioned in 2003 I am pretty sure Justine would have beaten either Clijsters or an injured Venus to win Wimbledon that year, but Serena stopped her by spanking her in the semis. So 2003 is a year I would agree specifically Serena stopped her winning.

Venus on the other hand is even more interesting to ponder. I think Justine would have dominated the head to head with Venus on clay and even hard courts during the period they went for almost 5 year gap of not playing. Lucky for Venus she only played Justine on all surfaces, except that 2007 U.S Open semifinal, during the time she was at her peak and Justine was a slamless up and comer then lacking both firepower and self belief. That creates a bogus and misleading head to head between them IMO. However Wimbledon is the one place Venus still could have gotten the measure of Justine more often than not. Then again in 2005 I think Justine's draw was too tough for her on her worst surface to have made it past anyway: Venus, Pierce (ok not great on grass), Sharapova, and Davenport all in a row, so I wouldnt attribute that she wouldnt have won that year even without being upset solely to Venus. I am not sure who would have won the 2007 final, that one is a tough one to call for me and would have loved to have seen it.

Lionheart392
05-07-2009, 05:03 AM
You've got to hear it again in context and pay attention to the bold-faced text below.

Navratilova is moaning the departure of Justine, because Justine was a complete all-court player who set herself apart from the baseline power players:

"It is too bad Justine didnít find it in her heart or in her soul to find that passion for just a couple of months and see if she can win Wimbledon, as again she would have been one of the handful of women to have won all four grand slams. It is the only one thatís missing.
Yet to me her game is best suited to grass compared to everybody else, 'cause she can serve and volley, she can come to the net, sheís got that slice backhand, moves so well. Power does not play as well on the grass as it does on the other surfaces. Yet it is the only one she has not won."

Obviously Navratilova is giving Justine's grass-court game some really high marks, and I concede that you are certainly right to infer that Justine's game is better suited to grass than hard courts where power players dominate, but to interpret this statement to mean that her game was better-suited to grass than to clay is tantamount to putting words into Navratilova's mouth. Notice that in the next segment, Navratilova goes on to say that Wimbledon favors big servers and good athletes. While Justine fits the latter category, her game is not really known for big serves.

Ah yes I see your point now :)
Regarding the serve though, Justine was hitting serves over 120mph later on in her career if I recall.

scotus
05-07-2009, 01:27 PM
Ah yes I see your point now :)
Regarding the serve though, Justine was hitting serves over 120mph later on in her career if I recall.

Wonderful that we came to an agreement.

Regarding her serve, yes, she did hit some big serves late in her career. She would rather double-fault than give her opponent a soft serve to pound on, which I think worked mostly in her favor.

Nonetheless, her first serves averaged in the 100s and maxed out at mid 110s. Over 120 mph was extremely rare for Justine (more of an accident), as that is a territory not often entered even by the Williams sisters.

grafselesfan
05-07-2009, 02:05 PM
Come to think of it though Henin never really had a huge win at Wimbledon. She had some big wins perhaps but not huge. Her best wins were over Capriati in the 2001 Wimbledon semis, a past her prime Seles on her worst surface in the 2002 Wimbledon quarters, and a visibly injured Serena in the 2007 quarters. Also Clijsters in the 2006 semis I guess. Those were still still big wins only because 2001 and 2002 were Justine's pre prime years where she clearly wasnt the player she was from 2003-2007, and she wasnt yet favored to beat Capriati at her peak (of course in Justine's prime she would be expected to beat Capriati), and because it was her first ever win over Seles at that point. Even an injured Serena is a big win on grass since it was her only ever win over a Williams on grass. Henin dominates Clijsters head to head, and grass is Kim's worst surface as well. She never had a win over a healthy or prime Venus or Serena, Davenport, Sharapova or even Mauresmo at Wimbledon.

Lionheart392
05-07-2009, 02:08 PM
Come to think of it though Henin never really had a huge win at Wimbledon. She had some big wins perhaps but not huge. Her best wins were over Capriati in the 2001 Wimbledon semis, a past her prime Seles on her worst surface in the 2002 Wimbledon quarters, and a visibly injured Serena in the 2007 quarters. Those were still still big wins only because 2001 and 2002 were Justine's pre prime years where she clearly wasnt the player she was from 2003-2007, and she wasnt yet favored to beat Capriati at her peak (of course in Justine's prime she would be expected to beat Capriati), and because it was her first ever win over Seles at that point. Even an injured Serena is a big win on grass since it was her only ever win over a Williams on grass. However she never had a win over a healthy or prime Venus or Serena, Davenport, Sharapova or even Mauresmo at Wimbledon.

That's a good point actually, I agree that her biggest wins at Wimbledon were the 2001 semi against Capriati and the 2007 QF against Serena. Does that mean her grass skills might not be as good as they seem, or does it make the fact that she never won Wimbledon even more baffling because the strongest competition rarely stood in her way?

grafselesfan
05-07-2009, 03:09 PM
That's a good point actually, I agree that her biggest wins at Wimbledon were the 2001 semi against Capriati and the 2007 QF against Serena. Does that mean her grass skills might not be as good as they seem, or does it make the fact that she never won Wimbledon even more baffling because the strongest competition rarely stood in her way?

It is hard to say. In some cases it means she got decent draws to the final or semis but never to the title I would say. In 2001 she was lucky Venus, Davenport, and even Hingis were all in the other half, while Capriati took out Serena in the quarters so she got to play Jennifer instead of Serena on grass. However she still had Venus waiting in the finals. In 2002 and 2003 she had a Williams waiting in the semis both times. In 2005 she had a murderous draw waiting for her, needing to beat Venus, Sharapova, and Davenport in 3 of her last 4 matches to win the title (and Pierce as the 4th opponent who while she destroyed in the French final and worst surface is grass still is no slouch). Maybe she saw that and just decided what the hell and that is why she just went out first round. :) In 2006 and 2007 she was at her peak and there were very few quality grass left so she was bound to get a good draw for her standard no matter what. Still couldnt win the final over Mauresmo in 06, and choked before getting to contest the final with Venus in 07.