Dementieva says Henin back to her best

MELBOURNE - Elena Dementieva said Belgian star Justine Henin had returned to tennis as good as ever after losing an epic second round Australian Open match to the former world number one on Wednesday.

By (AFP)

Published: Wed 20 Jan 2010, 6:43 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:57 AM

In a classic encounter that ebbed and flowed throughout and lasted almost three hours, the 27-year-old Henin eventually edged past the Russian fifth seed in two gripping sets, 7-5, 7-6 (8/6) for her biggest win since returning.

Henin retired from tennis when was on top of the world in May 2008, citing fatigue, but announced her comeback in September and was playing just the seventh match since then.

The pair had faced each other 11 times previously, with Henin winning all but two of those encounters, and Dementieva said the time away from the game had definitely not affected the Belgian’s form.

“I think she was playing very well,” the world number five said. “She was moving well and hitting hard. It just doesn’t feel like she had the break.

“She was as good as she was before.”

Dementieva dismissed any disappointment about facing the seven-times Grand Slam champion so early in the tournament.

Rather, she welcomed the return of Henin to women’s tennis.

“She’s a great player,” she said. “Playing against her, you really can learn a lot and improve your game.

“We really need these kind of players to increase the level of the game, so it’s great to have her back here on the tour.”

Dementieva lamented a missed opportunity, saying she was not aggressive enough and allowed Henin to dictate terms.

“I think I just let her play that aggressively today,” she said. “I was not playing deep enough, so I just let her dictate the whole game and that’s not the way I was planning to go. I feel like I was not aggressive enough.

“She was playing well, but I feel like I gave her the opportunity to play that well.”

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