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January 10, 2008

Justine Henin


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How important is it for you to make this final given you've only had a couple of the matches going into the Australian Open?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, it's important to get this kind of match, because to get a close match before the Open, that's what I really need now. And I'm glad I'm in the final so I can play one more match tomorrow. That's perfect preparation for me.
The conditions were pretty tough. No, it's not as hot as it is in Melbourne, but still it was quite difficult on the court and pretty windy. So kind of ups and downs in my game, but she played a very consistent match and just gave my match. And happy to come through and get another final tomorrow.

Q. She said she took a set off you for the first time in the four matches you've played. She thought she put a bit more pressure on you?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, I saw that. She's been more consistent also. She didn't do as much mistakes probably. I agree I wasn't at my best, for sure. It's only my second match of the season and I tried to get used to the conditions, but she played really solid and I could feel a difference from our last meetings.
It's good I could handle it in the third set and I could break her and keep my serve. It was really tough with the wind today, but it was good enough. Yeah.

Q. What was it exactly that you changed in the third set to the second and allowed you to regain control?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, I think beginning of the second set I really lost my intensity and lost a little but my concentration. At that level if you give a little bit they take a lot.
In the third set I just worked on my attitude: Be positive and play point after point and be a little bit more aggressive. I came more to the net and I served better, so it was much better in the third set.

Q. You dropped your serve three times in the second set. Does it get to a stage where you worry about that, or was it just the wind?
JUSTINE HENIN: No, I'm not really worried about that. It's not my serve, it's my attitude at that point that's is not aggressive enough. I'm just waiting a little bit too much for the mistakes, and they didn't come because she was playing better and better at the time. So it's not really a problem of the serve. I just need to keep being intense and aggressive.

Q. You talked about your attitude there. Did you play with a lot more freedom in 2007 than you have before, more flair?
JUSTINE HENIN: Than the years before? Well, I would say I was happy tore to be on the court and I felt better than the years before, for sure. Took decisions in my like, and life is steps and different stages, and you just want to move forward.
The fact that I have my family back in my life change a lot of things and brought me a lot joy to do what I love so much. I think I remain pretty healthy also in 2007, so that helps to be more consistent and that gives confidence.

Q. Could you comment on the tennis balls? Some players seem to think they're getting fluffed up and are quite heavy by the end of the nine games before the change.
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, I think that the balls are quite strange this year. I have the feeling they're pretty fast at the beginning, and then they become really heavy when they open a little bit after a few games.
Yeah, then it's quite heavy. You must hit the ball pretty hard to have a good performance.

Q. The fact that you can come out after just a couple of games and beat the world No.4, does that show the gap between you and the next few players is widening?
JUSTINE HENIN: I don't think about that. I just go on the court and do my best and try to win every match I have to play. I don't think about what it means or what it doesn't mean.
I know next week it's going to be another big tournament and another goal for me, and I just want to be ready for it. That's it.

Q. Would you talk about your possible opponents.
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, I mean Kuznetsova, we know each other so well. She's a good friend. I like her a lot. She's been very consistent in the last few years and she has a very heavy game. She's pretty aggressive, takes the opportunities, so I know it's going tiebreak a tough match.
If it's Nicole it's the same. She improved a lot in the last two years I would say. She's younger so that make a little difference, but she goes for it. She goes for the winners. One of the new players on the Tour, so both of them are going to be tough. I know I'll have to be at my best if I want to win this title again.

Q. Have you had a chance to chat with Kim at all lately?
JUSTINE HENIN: No. It's going to be soon. I think in February now. So, no, I didn't hear anything. I know she's good, but I didn't talk to her.

Q. Svetlana said that she loves your -- not to play against it -- but your inside out forehand. She thinks it's one of your best shots and it's one she found difficult last year. People still go ooh and ah on your backhand. Do you hear the crowd?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, yeah. I think it will be forever. Even if I think -- maybe not today, but usually my forehand is my biggest shot in my game and I win more points with it. My backhand looks more natural. I never really worked on my backhand, and I had to work hard on my forehand because that wasn't natural at all.
I know the crowd when they're talking about me it's always about my backhand. I just get used to it, even if I think that's not the shot that brings me the more winners.

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