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August 31, 2004

Justine Henin



Q. Talk about the exuberance of Athens, how that might parlay into your play here.

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I think coming here after Athens is not easy because it's been a lot of emotions there. It was my coming back. And then a week after, it's another big, big tournament. It's one of the four most beautiful tournaments in the year. You need to stay focused and you need to go step by step, forget about what happened last week, and just try to adjust your game on the surface, the conditions, everything. The atmosphere is totally different. It's been a unique experience in Athens. A lot of people behind me. Here I have to stay more focused, find my motivation. But it's not easy to play the first round, but I came through, so that's the most important thing.

Q. Talk about coming back last year, what you were able to do here last year. Does that help you in your level of confidence?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I think what happened from the French Open till Indian Wells this year, before I was sick, gave me a lot of experience, gave me a lot of maturity. You learning a lot of things. You also have to learn to take care of your body. That's very important to stay at the top for a long time. That's probably the biggest lesson I got. But I think now that I'm coming back, I'm very happy to be on the court. I'm very happy I can play my game. That's the most important thing right now. Enjoy my tennis.

Q. The way you played today, you're satisfied?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I think it was really tough conditions today. I played well in the first set. I was serving pretty good. And then I started to sleep a little bit at the beginning of the second, and she started to play better. I wasn't really ready for it. When I was 4-1 down in the second, I found my game again. It's not an easy match because she has nothing to lose. In the first set, she did a lot of mistakes. It was really windy out there. So it's not easy playing the first round, but I'm happy I won it.

Q. You were almost down 2-5 in the second set. It's windy. You have a player playing risky tennis. When you're close to going down 2-5, what is the key to stabilizing your game and getting back?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Well, first is playing point after point, not thinking about what can happen, not thinking about the future. I knew at this point I could go to a third set if I didn't stay calm and quiet and just play point after point. So you have to stay focused on your main goal. I was just trying to stay in the court. She was pushing me a lot. I didn't serve very good at the beginning of the second set so I knew it was the key to find my first serve again at the end of the second set, and I did. You need to use your experience at this point of the match. That's for sure.

Q. Do you find that young players like that who are still finding their game, they're susceptible to some sort of tactics?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Oh, I think this kind of player, they're all hitting the ball very hard, always not at the same rhythm. They're hitting the ball as hard as they can. I need to use my game to play against this kind of game. I think that with my slice, with all my variations and everything, I think I can opposite this kind of game. That's very important tactically.

Q. Change their rhythm maybe?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Change their rhythm, that's for sure. That's what I did pretty good in Athens. I wasn't playing, you know, always at the same rhythm. I was playing high balls, then I was coming to the net, then I was playing slowly. I think that's my game, and I have to play like this.

Q. You were down 4-1, then you won the first point of the sixth game with a shot with spin. From that point on you kind of rolled. Can you talk about that shot, if that, in fact, energized you?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: It was the dropshot?

Q. Yes.

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: It's one point during a match. I think it didn't make the difference today. It was a good point, that's for sure. But when I was down 4-1, I tried to find my way to play again. I was a little bit more aggressive at the end of the match than I was at the beginning of the second set. This point helped me to go to Love-30. It's only a point in the match, so it didn't make big difference.

Q. Before you go on court, you do this sort of shadow play without the ball, split-set. Do you do this before every match? If so, why?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Yeah, that's my routine. I like to do my warm-ups with my racquet because is very important to feel the movements, to imagine what you're going to do. That's very important for myself. I think it's more mental than physical at this point. In all my warm-ups, I do like this.

Q. How much time do you spend doing that?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: It's very short. I think at the most 10 minutes. It's very short. I don't need more.

Q. For a person who is out in the sun all the time, you appear very pale today. Are you feeling all right?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Yeah, thanks. I haven't been feeling well in the last few days when I came from Athens. I got a cold. It's been hard for me to recover in the last few days, but I start to feel better. Thank you to ask me (smiling).

Q. Is that cold connected to your other viral problem?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: No. After what happened in the last few months, I have to be careful about everything. Here, just the air-conditioning in the first few days, the fact also that I didn't sleep a lot last weekend because I had early flight and everything coming back from Athens, on Monday I was already in the plane to go to Florida. A lot of things that I'm not used any more to do. I haven't practiced a lot here in New York in the last few days. Only 30 minutes yesterday, nothing the day before. I start to feel better, but I'm not still a hundred percent.

Q. During the long period when you were ill, did your weight go down a lot?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Did I do a lot of weights? No, not really. I was practicing, but only an hour a day. I was an hour a day on the court, then I was three days in my bed. I didn't recover at all. But I did a lot of running. That's the only thing I could do. I was running very slowly for a long period of time. That helped me. I lost some weight, so that's pretty good.

Q. What do you weigh now?


Q. 130, 125?


Q. What do you think of all this talk about what Serena is going to wear next? The local papers followed it this morning. Do you think it's good for the sport?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: What happened? I didn't see it.

Q. What costume, Nike outfit she's going to wear next.

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I'm not really interest by all these things. I want to stay focused on my game. I didn't watch the match yesterday. I don't know exactly what she's wearing. That's my last problem right now.

Q. You were talking about your health, being weak. Last year obviously from playing here, it took a lot out of you. Is there something about this tournament, this weather, something that's just tough to deal with in general?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: It is a very tough tournament, that's for sure - maybe the toughest one during the year. The conditions are very hard. Especially this year. Today was a bit cooler. But in the last few days, it was so humid. For most of the players, not for me, but it's the end of the season almost. I think a lot of players are getting tired here also because they played already a lot at the beginning of the season. So it's not my case fortunately right now. But it is a very tough tournament, that's for sure. The atmosphere is very different. Yeah, you need to take care of yourself all the time every day during the whole tournament because you know you can be injured and sick. When you're sick, you cannot play.

Q. Considering what happened last year, this year already, do you have to pay special attention to that?

JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Oh, no, I'm professional so I know what I can do. But sometimes you don't have the control of everything. Last year what happened, it's a great memory, but it took me a lot of energy, that's for sure, because I played more than three hours, I was cramping and everything. It was the end of the tournament already. I think a lot of players have been sick in the last few days, just got a cold and everything. It's okay. I'll recover soon, I hope.

End of FastScripts….

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