The top-ranked player in the world ended the surprising run of
qualifier Yan Zi 6-3, 6-0 in the Rogers Cup semifinals Saturday.
Henin, in her first appearance since being eliminated in the
semifinals at Wimbledon, is using the Rogers Cup as a final tuneup
for the U.S. Open -- and perhaps some redemption for her
disappointing performance at the All England Club.
"The confidence is back after Wimbledon, that's for sure,"
Henin said. "My level is good."
Yan, ranked 169th from China, was the first qualifier to reach
the semifinals at the tournament in 11 years.
"It was a very, very nice week," the 22-year-old said.
Henin will face No. 2 seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, who
defeated 12th-seeded Tatiana Golovin of France, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 in
the late semifinal. Henin has won all six meetings against
Jankovic, the most recent in the French Open semifinals.
"I've never beaten her before, and I don't know how to do that,
but I will just somehow during the match try to figure out a way,"
Jankovic said of Henin. "Nothing is impossible, you know."
Henin's powerful serve and strong groundstrokes were too much
for Yan, who entered the qualifying draw as an alternate and went
on to eliminate 2006 champ Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and Marion
Bartoli of France on her way to the final four.
Yan, who uses a two-handed forehand, tried to keep the pressure
on Henin early. At times, she worked the 25-year-old from corner to
corner on the baseline and mixed in some backhand slices to keep
her off-balance. The technique was effective in the first few
games, and Yan broke Henin's serve to pull even at 3-3.
"It takes a little bit of time to get used to her game," Henin
said. "She was using her forehand a lot. It's for sure her best
shot. I just had to move her a lot and then change directions and
be very aggressive. It took me a few games to understand that."
But from there, Henin appeared to find another gear and took
advantage of several unforced errors, wrapping up the victory in a
tidy 71 minutes.
Henin won the event in 2003 and lost in the 2005 final.
Jankovic started strong against Golovin, building a 5-2 lead.
Golovin came back to break serve, hold and break again to even the
score at five. The next game ended with a great rally, capped with
an exciting exchange at the net. Jankovic hit her shot wide to give
Golovin the game, the Serb throwing her racket to the ground in
frustration. Golovin closed out the set for a 7-5 win.
"It was the serve, that was the biggest problem, I just didn't
serve well at all," Jankovic said. "It was very, very frustrating
for me to lose that set. I knew that I could have been in the
locker room an hour ago, and I'm sitting there fighting very hard
and hanging in the match."
Jankovic steadied herself from that point, securing the victory
to set up a final matchup featuring the tournament's top two seeds.
Henin, who's 42-4 this season, will take a week off after
Sunday's final before gearing up for the U.S. Open. She's been
bothered by injuries to both her wrists, and admitted her shoulder
was bothering her Saturday.
"I'm going to have a few days to recover, take my time," said
Henin. "Usually I don't like to play a week before a Grand Slam. I
do prefer to have my time and get relaxed a little bit and get
ready, mentally and physically."