| Justine Henin-Hardenne with her trophy after defeating Kim Clijsters 6-0, 6-4 at Roland Garros Saturday. (AFP)
Paris, June 7 (Reuters): Justine Henin-Hardenne created history on Saturday, beating compatriot Kim Clijsters 6-0, 6-4 to become the first Belgian Grand Slam champion.
The fourth seed never gave Clijsters a chance in the one-sided final to win in 68 minutes before racing to the stands and falling into the arms of husband Pierre-Yves.
Dedicating the win to her deceased mother, the 21-year-old said: “It’s a great moment for me today, I went for that win with all my heart.
“I played for my mum above all, obviously. I want to dedicate that victory to my mum who is watching me from paradise, I’m sure she’s very proud of me.”
It was the first Grand Slam final between two Belgians and a nervous Clijsters made too many unforced errors and wilted in the Parisian heat.
Henin-Hardenne had lost her only previous Grand Slam final at Wimbledon two years ago against Venus Williams but made up for that disappointment with a superb performance.
A day before her 20th birthday, Clijsters was simply overwhelmed by her opponent, her grit and determination no match for the style and finesse of Henin-Hardenne.
With Belgian King Albert and Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt watching from the stands, the history-making match unfurled, beamed back to a giant television screen in Brussels’s famous Grand Place.
Henin-Hardenne burst from the blocks brimming with intent. She broke second seed Clijsters in the opening game when the 2001 Roland Garros runner-up fired a forehand long.
She stretched into a 2-0 lead with some solid serving before breaking again for 3-0, this time Clijsters prodding a backhand beyond the baseline to drop serve.
Scowling and consumed by frustration, Clijsters tried everything to throw her compatriot off her stride, slipping in subtle drop shots to break her rhythm.
But Henin-Hardenne treated each one with disdain, belting the second one for a spectacular backhand winner before Clijsters double faulted to fall 5-0 behind.
Clijsters’s boyfriend, men’s world number one Lleyton Hewitt, watched grimly in the stands as the 19-year-old racked her brains for a solution.
A game later Henin-Hardenne took a firm grip of the final, taking the first set in just 26 minutes 6-0.
Nobody had lost an opening set of a women’s final 6-0 since 1988 when Natasha Zvereva lost to Steffi Graf.
That match had been a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash but Clijsters made sure she would avoid that ignominy by finally registering on the scoreboard to hold the opening game of the second set.
Displaying a deftness around the net, former Wimbledon finalist Henin-Hardenne levelled, angling a volley away from her opponent to hold serve.
Red-faced, Clijsters struggled to fathom her compatriot’s game. With Hewitt out of his chair and roaring her on, she tried to dig in but still the winners flew from her opponent’s racket.
Twins win doubles
US twins Mike and Bob Bryan won the men's doubles title Saturday ousting defending champions Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands and former singles champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 in one hour 20 minutes.