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January 9, 2008

Justine Henin


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Nice encouraging start to the year. What sort of shape do you think you are in going into the Open?
JUSTINE HENIN: It was a good start. It's been a strange start in the tournament for me winning my first match not playing. So I'm happy with the way I played today.
It's never easy the first match of the season. You have to forget about the last season and really get focused on now, and that's another kind of pressure. I start to be used to it.
I felt good on the court and I felt the surface pretty good and it's going to be great. I'm going to have a tough match tomorrow against Ivanovic, and that's the kind of match I really need before the Open. The Open remain the goal here in Australia, so I hope I can play two more matches here and get ready for the open.

Q. Did you feel like maybe you needed one more game just to get used to the heat and the surface?
JUSTINE HENIN: It's important that I'm here in Sydney and I play a few matches, even if it's two or three our four. It's just that, yeah, you need to get used to jet lag, the weather, a lot things, so it was really important for me to come here.
I missed Australia a lot last year and I'm happy to be back. I'm very excited about the Open next week. I hope it's going to be great.

Q. When did you start preparing to come to Australia?
JUSTINE HENIN: I started after the Championships. I took two weeks off and then I started I think 25th, 26th of November. I was in Monaco where I live, so I did my whole preparation over there. I could practice outside. Not as hot as here for sure because it's the winter there, but still I could play outdoors and that was important. I had good preparation, so I'm happy the way I am now.

Q. You have very strong legs. Do you do a lot of running or a lot of cycling?
JUSTINE HENIN: Not a lot of running because my knee is bothering me when I run a lot. I do a lot of cycling. I do a lot of spinning. I like it lot and it's a lot of fun.
I don't do a lot of weights anymore. I work just a lot with my body weight and some bends and some different kinds of things, but not really with a lot of weights. No, I feel good.

Q. When you're playing your first game of the season and you face somebody you never played before, what are the sort of potential dangers there?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, it's a danger. Every time you walk on the court you know you can win and you can lose, and I see both of situations mentally before I walk on the court because everything can happen.
I'm not a big fan of playing someone that I don't know because I like to know what to expect, but now with a lot of young players coming on the Tour it's more often that I play girl that I don't know.
But tomorrow is going to be someone that I know pretty much. Yeah, it's first tournament of the season. You need a few days to get your confidence and your rhythm back, but I think that it was a good start today.

Q. You have a very good record at the Australian Open. What do you think is it about that tournament that seems to bring out the best in you?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, I love being in Australia. I like the mentality. I like the weather here even if it could be hot. I like the people. It's a pretty relaxed tournament.
It's the first of the season so everyone is happy to be back and see each other again. We discuss about our holidays and all these kind of things. No, that's a great event. I like it a lot.
The surface -- I mean, the Rebound Ace was pretty good for me and I think this one could be a good surface for me, too. I left Australia with a strange feeling two years ago and I wasn't here last year, so it's great feeling to be back again.

Q. Do you think you have a point to prove at all after what happened two years ago, unfinished business?
JUSTINE HENIN: No, I don't think so, because, you know, I feel really comfortable about what happened and I have no regrets. I was feeling so bad. I mean, I wasn't healthy enough to play that match. It's pretty tough when in a Grand Slam final when you're not 100% to take your chances and take the opportunity.
I wanted this title so much so it was tough, but I don't have anything to prove to anyone. I'm here because I love tennis and I'm here because I love any job. I do it the best I can and try to remain healthy because it's the key for me if I want to be on the Tour for a few more years.

Q. Did you think the women's draw in Melbourne is really open? Do you think it could be more open?
JUSTINE HENIN: I think women's tennis is quite open now. It's going to be interesting, especially first Grand Slam of the season, because you need a little bit of time to get used to this kind of pressure again.
Because you know the French Open, Wimbledon, US Open, everything in two and a half or three months and a half, three months, and now we didn't play in Grand Slam for a few months and we need to get used to the atmosphere again. Everything can happen in Melbourne for sure.

Q. Svetlana was here and she said you're the favorite. Do you see yourself as the favorite?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, as the No. 1 player in the world I can understand that everyone sees me as the favorite. But I can tell you every time I wake up, yeah, like I said, anything can happen. I just do the best I can. I'm really focus on myself and I just try to do my best and be well-prepared and, yeah, just give 200% on the court.
We'll see what's going to happen. A Grand Slams is long. I'm still in Sydney now and in the semis tomorrow and Grand Slams is seven matches. You need to be strong mentally physically, and you need a little bit of luck also.
It's long story, I can tell you, so you must go step by step and match after match.

Q. I know you like being No. 1. Do you feel as like one of the drawbacks it's having a target on your back?

Q. Do you feel like that's a downside?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, everyone loves to play against the No. 1 player in the world because there's less pressure on them when they play me, and I can feel it. They always have a better level, which is interesting and very exciting for me because it's always a good challenge to keep my ranking and to improve, also.
Like I said, if you think only about ranking, what can I do better? I mean, I'm the No. 1 player in the world, but that's not the most important thing. I just want to be a better player this year. That's it.

Q. Can I just ask you, off the court I know you love Australia, but Sydney specifically, have you had much time to get around this time?
JUSTINE HENIN: Not enough. I'll come back in a few years. No, I like the atmosphere. I like Sydney a lot, but I cannot tell you that I really know the city pretty well. I like to keep my energy. I'm the kind of player who is really focused in the tournament, so I don't take too much time to do other things.
I'm a bit frustrated about that, because it's beautiful country. I'll take the time in a few years to come back and really maybe take one month in Australia to know the country a little better.

Q. If you could have time this week, what would be the top three things on your list to do in Sydney?
JUSTINE HENIN: I don't know. I didn't think about that.

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