Justine Henin Australian Open Final Interview

Q. Disappointed but proud? JUSTINE HENIN: Of course disappointed, I mean, when you lose in the final of a Grand Slam, especially in three sets, and I got a few opportunities that I haven’t been able to take.

But this feeling of disappointment cannot take, you know, uhm, advantage on all the things I’ve done in the last few weeks. And it’s just more than what I could expect for. I just have to remember that.

Even if it’s quite soon after the match now, I’m sure there will be a lot of positive things I can think about in a few days. Uhm, it’s been almost perfect. Just the last step, I couldn’t make it.

Yeah, it’s mixed feeling at the moment. In a few hours I’m sure it’s going to be much better.

Q. Was fitness a factor in the last set?

JUSTINE HENIN: No, I don’t think so. I mean, physically I know I have to work hard when I go back home ’cause, you know, I suffered a lot in this tournament. But we knew it. I mean, I’ve been to a certain stage, and now we’ll have to go to the next step physically.

No, I think you have to deal with this kind of situation I’m not used to anymore. It’s been a long time I haven’t been in this situation. Everything went pretty fast in the last four weeks, so it wasn’t that easy for me to deal with.

So I haven’t been in my best, of course. I kept fighting a lot. I got a lot of breakpoints in the first set, and it was very difficult for me to break her in the first. And then the big opportunity in the beginning of the third set, I started to play much better at the end of the second, really aggressive.

She was under pressure. She served unbelievable in that game. I was up 1?Love in the third, and what happened if I could break her at that time.

But she’s a real champion. She plays the right shot at the right time. She served great at that time. After that, mentally was a little bit harder to stay in the match.

So I wouldn’t say physically. I’m tired, of course, especially now after the match. But for the rest, it was okay.

Q. What does this mean for you now for your career going forward, what you’ve been able to achieve here?

JUSTINE HENIN: I’ll keep a lot of good things. Now it’s gonna be probably time for me to work a few more weeks and coming back in a few weeks. Just take some rest and then work again.

And I learned a lot of things in the last few weeks. Many things were positive in my game, on and off the court. I think I really enjoyed every moment of it.

But I also know the way is still long in terms of where I want to go as a tennis player, and I know I’ll have to work harder. And I’m gonna do it, for sure. I mean, what I did was just amazing in the last few weeks. Maybe I could be home after the match against Dementieva, and I went all the way to the final. So I keep a lot of good things now.

Q. Considering your comeback, what were your realistic expectations coming into the tournament?

JUSTINE HENIN: I didn’t know really what to expect. I was ready to live, like I said, the best and the worst. And it’s been very good almost till the end.

No, I was curious about what my level would be and how I was going to deal with just the atmosphere on and off the court, how it would feel. And it’s been ?? I felt I took the right decision, so it’s good enough for me already. I got the results also in the last four weeks: two finals. So I can be really happy about that.

Q. What surprised you most?

JUSTINE HENIN: Uhm, well, to be on the court today maybe (smiling).

No, I think it’s very warm now to talk about that. In a few days I’ll be able to think about all what I live in the last few weeks.

But, no, just the way I felt. The way I felt and the way I could deal with different kind of situations. Today wasn’t enough, of course, but generally very positive.

Q. What are your plans now going forward? What tournaments?

JUSTINE HENIN: Well, it’s probably going to be Indian Wells next step for me. Probably, yeah. I just need a few more days to take my decisions and really make a plan and talk with Carlos about that. But that should be the most appropriate option.

Q. What about the kind of reception you got from the fans?

JUSTINE HENIN: They gave me an unbelievable support. And it was, I mean, for me very important to realize that they like the fact that I’m back. And, like I said, I mean, Australian fans and people are so nice, and they know about tennis. They wanted me to win. They gave me everything they could. I think it was fantastic support.

It was the best place to start again.

Q. Serena said you could be ranked No. 1 at the end of this year. You definitely have the possibility. What do you think?

JUSTINE HENIN: Oh, I don’t think about that. It’s too far away. I’ll be focused on what I have to improve in the next few weeks, the next few months. I’ve only played two tournaments. It’s the end of January. The season is still very long. I want to enjoy every moment I spend on the court and be very smart about the calendar and everything.

Winning big tournaments, just get better, get better, get better. That’s my motivation, and the rest comes. If I get better, if I improve, if I work hard, the rest will come. So I’m not focused on who’s No. 1 or whatever at the moment or where I can be in a few months.

I have some goals, of course, but I just don’t want to look too far. Everything went pretty fast, fast enough already in the last four weeks. It’s just time to calm down and think about the future.

Q. Is the competitive part of the game mentally being out there in those types of moments? Is that something that comes back gradually, or is that innate and you have it or you don’t?

JUSTINE HENIN: No, you work on it, of course. Even if probably when you have the determination and a lot of things, you have this at the beginning, but you can improve a lot. I mean, I improved a lot in that part of my game in the last few years, you know.

Now I have to probably work again on it. But in the past, I mean, I was quite fragile when I was younger, then got really stronger in the important situations. And Serena proved again that she has it.

But with the competition and these kind of match, I’m sure I’ll learn a lot of things from this.

Q. What was it like when you walked out of the quiet hallway and onto center court and you heard that applause? You had this big smile on your face. Had you forgotten what that felt like?

JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, it’s a long time ago it didn’t happen. So, uhm, yeah, it was emotional of course. I was feeling nervous, of course. But it was great. I mean, to play this kind of match that we play in tennis, it was a very good feeling.

It was a bit harder after that. But at that moment, it was a very nice moment.

Q. Have you got a thought on tomorrow night’s match at all?

JUSTINE HENIN: I’ll be flying at that time, so… Well, I’m sure it’s going to be a great match. For me, maybe the two best players of the world at the moment. I don’t know, Andy Murray is such a smart player. What he’s doing on the court is just fantastic.

Roger, what can we say more than what he’s doing? I mean, I have so much respect. I still think he’s gonna win. But I hope and I’m sure it’s going to be a great battle.

Q. Apart from today’s final, what was the other highlight of this tournament? What one memory will you take away of these two weeks?

JUSTINE HENIN: It’s very hard to keep one moment. But when I beat Dementieva, it was a very good moment because the quality of the match was very, very good, and it was a match that I was, yeah, waiting for. It was a very good memory for me.

But generally, the way I felt in the last few weeks has been fantastic. So I go back with only good things.

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