Thursday, February 26
Henin-Hardenne is tough
but she might be too tired

Special to

NEW YORK -- What an extraordinary match Friday night between Jennifer Capriati and Justine Henin-Hardenne. Plenty of guts spilled out there. A classic that will be talked about for a long time, with quality play from start to finish.

Capriati had chances to win in straight sets and another to win in the third set. But after looking at a lot of points when Jennifer was up and trying to close it out, I kept thinking: what high-quality tennis!

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Pam Shriver
Former WTA Tour pro Pam Shriver is providing with in-depth analysis throughout the U.S. Open. Shriver, a tennis analyst for ESPN, was ranked as high as No. 3 in singles play. She won 21 singles and 112 doubles crowns, including 22 Grand Slam titles.

Now, how will Henin-Hardenne, who didn't leave the facilities until 3 a.m. because she was receiving intravenous fluids, recover? Even as fit as she is, she's feeling beat up today.

Her final opponent, countrywoman Kim Clijsters, finished her semifinal earlier in the evening and was out on the court only a third as long.

It appears to be a big advantage. However, at Wimbledon I gave a big advantage to Clijsters over an injured Venus Williams, and I would have thought she had a big advantage over Serena Williams with a 5-2 lead in the third set of the Australian Open semifinal. And I didn't believe Henin-Hardenne would dominate Clijsters at the French Open. So Clijsters has some questions to answer.

Never has Clijsters looked as convincingly good as she did beating Lindsay Davenport. She hasn't even come close to losing a set in the tournament, so everything points to her.

However, little Henin-Hardenne is growing in respect in people's eyes. They're realizing that she has something on the inside -- something she'll have to call on tonight. Mentally she's strong enough -- the only question is the physical.

The two Belgians are not as fond of each other as you might think. Despite being from the same country, one is of Flemish background (Clijsters) and the other French (Henin-Hardenne).

They had a little friction after the match in Carlsbad where Henin-Hardenne took an injury timeout after losing the first set. "It's not the first time that it's happened," Clijsters said after the match. "She's probably done it in every match I've played against her."

It was the third time in the pair's past four meetings that Henin-Hardenne won out.

It's a matchup that U.S. audiences better get used to seeing.