Henin wins fifth title of year with Eastbourne victory
EASTBOURNE, England -- Defending champion Justine Henin defeated second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2) Saturday in the final of the Eastbourne International, the last grass-court tuneup before Wimbledon begins Monday.
The matchup was a repeat of the 2006 Wimbledon final won by Mauresmo.
Henin remained unbeaten in eight matches at Eastbourne. This was the top-seeded Belgian's fifth title this year and third win in four matches over Mauresmo since losing to her at Wimbledon.
"It's another title for me and gives confidence," Henin said. "Amelie is one of the best players on grass and she proved it last year in Wimbledon."
Mauresmo broke to lead 3-1 in the first set, but allowed Henin to level in the seventh game on her sixth break point. They traded breaks again before Henin got a third break to go up 6-5 and then close out the set with an ace.
Henin got a quick break in the second set to lead 2-1 with a backhand winner, but Mauresmo fought back to even the score at 4-4. Mauresmo went on to dominate the tiebreaker, building a 6-1 lead before converting her fourth set point.
A forehand winner gave Mauresmo a break to lead 3-2 in the final set and she claimed her next two service games without surrendering a point.
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But she failed to serve out the match at 5-4 when Henin broke with a forehand pass, and the Belgian went on to drop just two points in the tiebreaker.
Henin said the strong winds throughout the nearly three-hour match made it difficult for both players to make shots.
"It's been tough, it's been the biggest opponent for both of us," Henin said. "I'm a little bit tired because of the wind, not because of the tough match."
Mauresmo said it was her own mistakes that caused the defeat.
"The serve let me down a little bit," Mauresmo said. "Not enough first serves in, definitely, and a few volleys here and there that I had the occasion to put away and I didn't. ... Plus she played well in the key moments."
The last time Eastbourne staged a repeat of the Wimbledon final was in 1979, when Chris Evert defeated Martina Navratilova, after Navratilova had won the 1978 Wimbledon.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press