Is she gone for good this time?

Justine Henin retired from tennis for a second time Wednesday, citing a lingering right elbow injury.

The past few weeks, there was a little bit more pain every day, but I thought my willpower would prevail. Today, the tests and my doctors are adamant. It is clear now that I have to accept that my career ends for good. Even if it is hard, very hard, at a time when I came back with enormous fighting spirit.

Henin, 28, won 43 WTA singles titles and seven Grand Slam singles titles, including four French Open titles, one Australian Open title, and two US Open titles. She has also won the year-ending Sony Ericsson Championships twice and the singles gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

She announced retirement from professional tennis in May 2008 and returned to competition in 2010.
She reached the 2010 Australian Open final (lost to Serena Williams) but missed the most part of the season, due to an elbow injury.

Kim Clijsters, who will play Li Na in Saturday’s Australian Open final after defeating Vera Zvonareva in straight sets, said she was surprised by the news:

“I was obviously surprised when I heard that news. To be honest, I haven’t been in touch with her, so I don’t know what the situation is with her elbow. It is a sad situation to see such a great player end her career on such a note.”

It was against Clijsters at Wimbledon that Henin slipped awkwardly and suffered the injury to her elbow that ultimately ended her career.

I must say I never really like her personality but her game was beautiful to watch, in particular her one handed backhand. I wish her the best for the future.

The No.5 seed in Melbourne, Sam Stosur will enter the event as Australia’s best hope and only seeded player.
It has been 28 years since the Australian Open was won by homegrown talent, not since unseeded Chris O’Neil surprised everybody for her one and only career title at the Open in 1978.
A former world number one in doubles, she was sidelined for about 9 months in 2007-2008 with the debilitating career-threatening Lyme’s disease. She recovered to regain her place in the top 30 in 2009 and since then she seems to have some kind of a second, more successful career.

Sam had a standout 2010 season, reaching the finals at Roland Garros and the Masters’ semifinals, and cracking the top 5. She is now a real threat in the Grand Slam tournaments.
Her 2011 season is quite caotic so far as she suffered two second round losses in Brisbane (lost to Jarmila Groth) and Sydney (lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova). She could face Zvonareva in quarter final and Clijsters in semies. But her biggest challenge will be to deal with the pressure.

Let’s have a look at the other contenders:

Caroline Wozniacki
She’s probably the player (apart from Stosur) with the most pressure on her shoulder as she has to prove she can finally win a Slam.
Her best result Down Under was a fourth round last year, so nothing impressive, but she proved her game is effective on hard courts, as she reached the final at Flushing Meadows in 2009 and the semies last year.
Wozniacki has a tough half of the draw with 5 previous Grand Slam champions (Venus Williams, Francesca Schiavone, Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kutznetsova).

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– Nadal cruises to final with a straight sets win over Mikhail Youzhny.

World number one Rafael Nadal was just too good for Youzhny. After two defeats in semifinals the past two years (he lost to Andy Murray in 2008 and to Juan Martin Del Potro in 2009), the 24 year old Spaniard advanced to his first US Open final. With a win tonight, Nadal would become the seventh man in tennis history to complete a career Grand Slam.

– Djokovic stuns Federer in a five set thriller

Novak Djokovic saved 2 match points a 4-5 in the fifth, and after a grueling 3h 44 min match, he defeated Roger Federer to prevent the Nadal-Federer final everyone was hoping for.

To be honest, I was just closing my eyes and hitting forehands as fast as I can on match point. If it goes in, it goes in. If it goes out, just another loss to Federer in the U.S. Open. I managed to come back. I was very lucky.

– Kim Clijsters’ love story with New York continues

Kim Clijsters dismantled Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-1 to win her third US Open trophy. She became the first woman to retain her title since Venus Williams in 2001.

Clijsters won her 21st consecutive match here and her third title in her past three tries. Zvonareva, as predicted, lost her nerve.
Kim:

A little bit of experience definitely helps. I told her it’s tough. It took me six or seven finals before I finally got one. ‘Vera, keep it going. It will happen.

Defending champion Kim Clijsters cruised through the quarters but had to battle in quarters against French Open runner-up Sam Stosur and in semies against Venus Williams, to advance to the final. Winner in 2005 and 2008, it will be her third straight final at Flushing Meadows.

Round Opponent Score
R1 Greta Arn 6-0, 7-5
R2 Sally Peers 6-2, 6-1
R3 Petra Kvitova(27) 6-3, 6-0
R4 Ana Ivanovic 6-2, 6-1
QF Sam Stosur(5) 6-4, 5-7, 6-3
SF Venus Williams(3) 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4

Even though Clijsters is the favorite, the Russian has been impressive so far: she hasn’t lost a set and beat number one seed Caroline Wozniacki in spectacular fashion. It will Vera‘s second Grand Slam final in a row as she reached the final at Wimbledon (she lost to Serena Williams)

Round Opponent Score
R1 Zuzana Kucova 6-2, 6-1
R2 Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 7-6(5)
R3 Alexandra Dulgheru(25) 6-2, 7-6(2)
R4 Andrea Petkovic 6-1, 6-2
QF Kaia Kanepi(31) 6-3, 7-5
SF Caroline Wozniacki(1) 6-4, 6-3

Kim leads their head to head 5 to 2, but Vera won their last two matches this year at Wimbledon and Montreal, each time in 3 disputed sets.

Year Tournament Surface Winner Score in final
2002 US Open Hard Clijsters 1-6, 7-5, 6-4
2006 Eastbourne Grass Clijsters 3-0 ret
2006 Wimbledon Grass Clijsters 7-5, 6–3
2006 Stanford Hard Clijsters 6–2, 3-6, 6-1
2006 Hasselt Hard Clijsters 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
2010 Wimbledon Grass Zvonareva 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
2010 Montreal Hard Nadal 2-6, 6-3, 6-2

The key of this final, like often in women’s tennis, will be the mental: the winner will be the mentally stronger player.

Who wil win? Please vote:

Who will win?

  • Kim Clijsters (42%, 10 Votes)
  • Venus Williams (21%, 5 Votes)
  • Other (13%, 3 Votes)
  • Caroline Wozniacki (8%, 2 Votes)
  • Sam Stosur (8%, 2 Votes)
  • Svetlana Kuznetsova (4%, 1 Votes)
  • Elena Dementieva (4%, 1 Votes)
  • Jelena Jankovic (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Francesca Schivaone (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Vera Zvonareva (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 24

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– Top seeds Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki storm into quarterfinal. Novak Djokovic, Gael Monfils and Vera Zvonareva also advanced in straight sets.
2 surprises in the women’s draw: Dominika Cibulkova defeats 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, Kaia Kanepi beats last year’s semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer.

Day 8 complete results

US player of the day: Bob Bryan
Bob Bryan advanced to quarterfinals with his brother Mike in doubles, and qualified for the mixed doubles semifinals (with Liezel Huber).

Stat of the day: 25
Six of the eight women in the US Open quarterfinals are age 25 or older, with Venus Williams and Francesca Schiavone both 30.

Pic of the day: Robin Soderling
Big hitter Robin Soderling downed Albert Montanes in 4 sets and set up a clash with Roger Federer.

Matches to follow on day 9:
Samantha Stosur(AUS)[5] vs. Kim Clijsters(BEL)[2]
Francesca Schiavone(ITA)[6] vs. Venus Williams(USA)[3]