We've arrived at our second Women's Marquee Matchup of the Australian Open and this one has 'classic' written all over it. No. 1 seed Justine Henin puts her 32-match win streak on the line as she takes on Maria "Shriek"apova under the lights of Rod Laver Arena for a place in the semifinals.
Though she was broken while serving to close out her 4th round match, the World No. 1 was never in any real trouble against Chinese Taipei's Hsieh Su-Wei, winning 6-2, 6-2. Maria was more impressive in her match, destroying 2-time Grand Slam finalist Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-0 in 62 minutes. The last time these players met was in the classic final of last season's Sony Ericsson WTA Championships in Madrid, with Justine sneaking out a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 victory - the longest match in the Championship's history.
Here's what Justine had to say about facing Maria:
"I always know to beat her I have to be at my best. She's a real fighter. She never gives up. Very talented. She's a champion. So I know that against her I will have to be a hundred percent all the time."Maria had this to say about facing the Belgian:
"Justine's the one to beat, [...] She's on a pretty good winning streak, but every match is new. [...] The one in Madrid was tough but physically she got me in the end -- she was tougher than I was in the end. But I had many chances and I was very close to winning."Their strengths are clear: Justine has the mobility, versatility, and court-craft while Maria possesses bludgeoning power from the baseline. There's also no mystery between these two - they know each other's games well. Craig Hickman's Tennis Blog is giving the edge to Justine, but Maria has been the sharper player. We think the Russian will play first-strike tennis, rocket her groundies to the corners, and take balls out of the air - which is the only was she'll win. And we think she will...in 3 sets.
(images via Clive Brunskill & Rob Griffith/AP)