Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Super Stosur proves step too far for shattered Henin

Justine Henin revealed she was emotionally exhausted after slipping to her first French Open defeat for six years yesterday.

Four-time champion Henin surrendered a one-set lead to lose 2-6 6-1 6-4 in round four to Samantha Stosur on a stunned Suzanne Lenglen Court as her 24-match winning run at Roland Garros finally came to an end.

The former world number one's last defeat on the Paris clay came back in 2004, after which she won a hat-trick of singles titles before announcing her shock retirement from the game two years ago.

This year's French Open was her first since and, despite being less than six months into her comeback, she was widely regarded as one of the title favourites.

But her aura of invincibility at Roland Garros faded somewhat when her 40-set winning sequence came to an end in the last round against Maria Sharapova — before being shattered for good yesterday.

Henin, who was playing for a fifth successive day after her last two matches took place across two days, said: “It hasn't been easy, of course, the last few days, to play so many days in a row, even if it's not a full match.

“Emotionally, it was difficult to deal with all these matches. The two matches I had to stop and start again, especially against Sharapova, emotionally probably took a lot from me.

“It wasn't easy to come back on the court today.”

The 27-year-old 22nd seed was nevertheless gracious in defeat, adding: “I just wanted so much that the adventure could keep going. I haven't been of course at my best today. Samantha was the best player on the court. She took her chances.

“When you come back at this level after two years off, you know it's not going to be easy to deal with a lot of situations.

“That means I still have to work harder and see it as a big challenge.

“I took this year as a year of transition, so of course it's hard.

“But, in another way, it seems a bit normal. I'll just try to keep a lot of positive things and get focused on the future now.”

Australian seventh seed Stosur, who has been a revelation since reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros last year, will now face world number one Serena Williams in the last eight.

Williams watched sister Venus crash out of the women's singles on Sunday but there was little danger of her following suit in a |6-2 6-2 victory over Shahar Peer on Philippe Chatrier Court.

The 28-year-old struggled to hold serve at times and was broken twice but fashioned an ominous six breaks of her own against an opponent who came close to knocking her out of the Australian Open three years ago.

Williams, who has not reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros since 2003, said: “I seem always to be able to turn it up during this particular stage maybe, the fourth round, for some reason.

“Hopefully, I turn it up again.”

Fourth seed Jelena Jankovic and Yaroslava Shvedova completed the quarter-final line-up when they beat Daniela Hantuchova and Jarmila Groth, respectively.

Jankovic produced arguably her best performance of the tournament to win 6-4 6-2, while Shvedova added Groth two her two seeded scalps courtesy of a 6-4 6-3 victory.

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