2007-09-14 / Sports

The Mark of Greatness Displayed At The U.S.Open

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

Roger Federer Roger Federer FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY - There's a reason why Roger Federer and Justine Henin are No. 1. The ease of their play and ability to vanquish the competition make them clear choices on the various ranking systems.

It's also why they easily won their respective draws in the U.S. Open last week. Both Federer and Henin stopped all comers, with the Women's Champion not losing a set the whole tournament, while her male counterpart took his fourth straight.

It made for a weekend of greatness. First on Saturday, after disposing on previous days both Serena and Venus Williams, Henin put on the best Womens' Final performance in 31 years, since Chris Evert beat Evonne Goolagong, 6-0, 6-3 in 1976 , with a 6-1, 6-3 drubbing of the No. 4 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova. "I've played very well on the important points, said Henin, who didn't lose a set this whole Open. "I could take control from the beginning of the match. I never stopped being aggressive and took the opportunities

on her serve. She did mistakes when she probably couldn't do that mistake."

Henin was on control the whole match, going up 3-0 in the first set. Although she started to take some risks and double faulted seven times, the diminutive 5-foot-6-inch Belgian kept coming back keeping Kuznetsova on her heels, achieving for her second Open title and first since 2004.

The U.S.Open

"I'm really proud not being that tall and I can compete and be the best player in the world," Henin said. "Not a lot of people really thought I could do it, and that's why I'm really proud of it, because probably [my coach] Carlos [Rodriguez] has been the only one that told me every day, 'You can do it, you can be the No. 1 player in the world.'

"Not a lot of people thought I could win this Open with the draw I had, and I did it. It's amazing for me."

Then on Sunday afternoon, while the National Football League was kicking off, Roger Federer graced Arthur Ashe Stadium's court for his fourth-straight Open title. Facing off against Novak Djokovic, he had trouble in the first set, but survived a five set-point game when it was 5-4 and then two set points during the second eventually taking it in sets, 7-6 (4) 7-6 (2), 6-4.

"It was kind of more hard for me to control, you know, the rallies from the baseline, because it was really fast," said Federer, who is two Grand Slam wins away from tying Pete Sampras for the most wins of all-time.

"But, yeah, I mean, I had one bad game. That cost me obviously. I don't know. I mean, he had his chances today - many of them. You could sing a song about it. It's a tough one for him to swallow, because especially him losing in the end, straight sets, it's tough."

But it was tough for all the competitors, as they took on two of the greats of all time. For Federer it was his 12th Grand Slam title, with Henin winning her seventh. While others hope for their name just to be mentioned in the Court of Champions, both winners proved why they deserve to be mentioned among the greats.

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