EASTBOURNE, England -- Defending champion Justine Henin
defeated second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2)
Saturday in the final of the Eastbourne International, the last
grass-court tuneup before Wimbledon begins Monday.
The matchup was a repeat of the 2006 Wimbledon final won by
Henin remained unbeaten in eight matches at Eastbourne. This was
the top-seeded Belgian's fifth title this year and third win in
four matches over Mauresmo since losing to her at Wimbledon.
"It's another title for me and gives confidence," Henin said.
"Amelie is one of the best players on grass and she proved it last
year in Wimbledon."
Mauresmo broke to lead 3-1 in the first set, but allowed Henin
to level in the seventh game on her sixth break point. They traded
breaks again before Henin got a third break to go up 6-5 and then
close out the set with an ace.
Henin got a quick break in the second set to lead 2-1 with a
backhand winner, but Mauresmo fought back to even the score at 4-4.
Mauresmo went on to dominate the tiebreaker, building a 6-1 lead
before converting her fourth set point.
A forehand winner gave Mauresmo a break to lead 3-2 in the final
set and she claimed her next two service games without surrendering
But she failed to serve out the match at 5-4 when Henin broke
with a forehand pass, and the Belgian went on to drop just two
points in the tiebreaker.
Henin said the strong winds throughout the nearly three-hour
match made it difficult for both players to make shots.
"It's been tough, it's been the biggest opponent for both of
us," Henin said. "I'm a little bit tired because of the wind, not
because of the tough match."
Mauresmo said it was her own mistakes that caused the defeat.
"The serve let me down a little bit," Mauresmo said. "Not
enough first serves in, definitely, and a few volleys here and
there that I had the occasion to put away and I didn't. ... Plus
she played well in the key moments."
The last time Eastbourne staged a repeat of the Wimbledon final
was in 1979, when Chris Evert defeated Martina Navratilova, after
Navratilova had won the 1978 Wimbledon.