Mary pierced by Justine - No words to describe this magic moment, says Belgian

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By (AGENCIES)
  • Published 5.06.05
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Justine Henin-Hardenne and Mary Pierce at Roland Garros on Saturday. (AFP)

Paris: A super-charged Justine Henin-Hardenne crushed Mary Pierce 6-1, 6-1 to win the French Open crown for the second time on Saturday.

Playing near-perfect tennis, the Belgian dynamo overwhelmed her dazed opponent, smacking winners to all corners of the Roland Garros Centre Court as the Frenchwoman’s game imploded.

“There are no words to describe this magic moment. It’s a great victory for myself. The public was fantastic, even though they were obviously for Mary,” said Henin-Hardenne.

Victory for the former world No. 1 extended her winning sequence to 24 and means she is the undisputed queen of clay this year, having won every match she has played on the surface.

What had been an eagerly-awaited clash between the two French speakers turned out to be the most one-sided final since Steffi Graf beat Belarussian Natasha Zvereva in 1988.

“It’s difficult to talk. I have mixed emotions. I wanted to play a better match. I’m sorry it didn’t last very long,” a tearful Pierce, who had beaten world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport en route to the final, told the crowd.

Local girl Pierce, looking for an unlikely second title at the age of 30, began confidently enough, holding her opening service game with the aid of a crunching backhand.

But her early optimism quickly evaporated as Henin-Hardenne, timing the ball beautifully, launched a fierce onslaught to leave Pierce reeling.

The 23-year-old Belgian won the next 14 points with a mixture of stunning winners and wayward play from her opponent, breaking twice as she accelerated into a 4-1 lead.

Pierce, winner here five years ago and runner-up in 1994, simply had no answer to Henin-Hardenne’s punishing attack, her poor mobility ruthlessly exposed as he was continually dragged out of position.

Serving at 1-5, she looked a forlorn figure as she slipped to 15-40. She saved one set-point with an ace but followed that with a double-fault to hand the 2003 champion the opening set in 24 one-sided minutes.

It got even worse for Pierce early in the second set as raindrops fell lightly from the grey Parisian sky.

She comically dumped a routine smash into the bottom of the net as Henin-Hardenne grabbed an early break to lead 3-0.

Pierce finally stopped the rot in the next game, Henin-Hardenne for once off target with her destructive backhand. But it was only a brief respite.

In her next service game, Pierce lamely double-faulted to give Henin-Hardenne a chance to serve for victory.

A double-fault on her first match-point merely delayed the inevitable as another Pierce backhand found its way into the net to end an embarrassingly one-sided contest after 62 minutes.

Henin-Hardenne later said she would skip the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Eastbourne to get some rest before Wimbledon begins on June 20.

Meanwhile, the men’s doubles title was lifted by second seeds Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Max Mirnyi of Belarus, who defeated third-seeded American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.