Serena Williams wouldn't allow Justine Henin to dupicliate her countrywoman (Kim Clijsters) by becoming the second wild card entry to win a Grand Slam title as she imposed her powerful game to defeat the now un-retired Henin 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in a close-but-not-really-that close match to claim her 5th Australian Open crown (second in a row) and with it, her 12th Slam victory (in 15 finals). Though Williams suffered a bit of a lapse in the latter half of the second set, she righted herself by serving brilliantly in the final set and never allowed Henin a chance to make it close towards the end. It was vintage Serena from the start - powerful serving, aggressive baseline play and wise forays into the net. For Henin's part, she proved that she is indeed one of the top few players in the world - this just after two tournaments back after a two year retirement. This bodes well for women's tennis in 2010.
Henin's game plan was obvious as she wanted to hit with more power than what we are accustomed to seeing. Gone apparently are the days when Henin was content to wait for a 15th shot in a rally before she struck a winner. She is determined to win points outright early and has beefed up her serve as well. She wants to join the other women who strike the ball with such force. Whether or not this is a smart choice remains to be seen - you know, to thine own self be true and all of that. But this much is obvious - it can be utter folly to engage in a battle of brawn against Serena and at times during the final, especially in the third set, Serena looked exponentially stronger than Henin. Not that Henin didn't impress - she even managed a second serve ace. But from this writer's viewpoint, she would have been better serve by trying to extend the points against her great rival. Serena now leads their rivalry eight matches to six.
With clay now the dominant surface over the next four months, Henin will find herself in her comfort zone and she'll no doubt be focused on winning her fifth title at Roland Garros, which is Serena's least favorite Slam event. If we're lucky, these two will meet in Paris.