The weather was hot at the All England Club Wednesday, but the world’s top tennis players stayed cool under pressure to advance at Wimbledon. Justine Henin was tested, and Kim Clijsters blew by her opponent Wednesday morning.
Henin ran into a little trouble in the second set serving for the match when Kristina Barrois broke her twice while serving for the match. Henin benefited from a 4-1 lead in the first set, and a 5-1 lead in the second. The first set she won handily at 6-3, but had a little more trouble in the second before regrouping and pulling it out 7-5.
“It was good until 6-3 5-1. My intensity dropped,” Henin said. “I reacted well to it, though. It had happened to me a lot in the past, but I have experience. And everything else was positive. I was serving well today, so that was really good.”
It was the first match in the women’s draw to feature two players with identical backhand shots. It was the second time the two players had met in as many weeks. Henin beat Barrios last week 7-5, 6-3 on the way to her fourth grass-court title of her career.
Venus Williams, one of the favorites to win Wimbledon, is the only other player with more at five. All five of Williams’ grass-court titles have come at Wimbledon.
After the match, Henin blamed her tough second set on her eagerness to finish the match. She blamed herself for rushing at times when she just need to play solid tennis.
“I was sometimes too much in a rush to finish, probably because she gave up at that time and my intensity really dropped down,” Henin said. “I had a good reaction to the situation.”
Kim Clijsters also advanced at Wimbledon Wednesday, beating Karolina Sprem 6-3, 6-2. The Belgian had a little easier time with her opponent, who came into the match ranked No. 91 in the world. Her victory could set up a fourth round meeting with Henin.
Both players have come out of retirement to return to the tour, and Henin is chasing the only Grand Slam title she has yet to win.
“That remains a dream for me,” Henin said. “I just see myself as an outsider this year, because I don’t know how I’m going to deal at a very high level. So it’s very hard to predict what could happen, but I really don’t see myself as one of the favorites.”
Tennis sportsbooks have set Serena Williams as the favorite to win the tournament outright at 2/1. Justine Henin comes in third in the odds to win at 7/1, and fellow Belgian Clijsters chances have been set at 8/1.