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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 January 2006, 03:49 GMT
Henin illness hands Mauresmo win
Amelie Mauresmo
Mauresmo took control of the final from the opening game
Amelie Mauresmo finally claimed her first Grand Slam title when Justine Henin-Hardenne was forced to retire during the Australian Open final.

Mauresmo was leading 6-1 2-0 when Henin-Hardenne told the umpire she could not continue as she complained of having "no energy".

The Belgian later explained that the problem was a stomach upset.

It was the third time in the tournament that France's Mauresmo had benefited from an opponent retiring.

But the manner of the victory did not take away from the magnitude of the achievement for a woman who had waited since losing the 1999 Melbourne final for another chance at a Grand Slam title.

"It's been a very long time but I still don't know what to say," Mauresmo said afterwards.

"My first words are for Justine - it's disappointing for everybody to end this way so I hope you get better and recover quickly."

After repeatedly faltering in the latter stages of major tournaments and big matches there were doubts over whether Mauresmo would ever take one of the game's four big prizes.

Henin-Hardenne came into the final on a 20-game winning streak and with four Grand Slam titles to her name, and as such was a heavy favourite.

But from the opening exchanges it was Mauresmo who took control, with her heavy topspin and variety of pace forcing the Belgian way out of court.

The unforced errors flowed from Henin-Hardenne, who dropped the first four games without making a single winnner and quickly lost the opening set.

A fightback was expected from one of the toughest competitors in the game but when she fell 2-0 behind it was clear the former champion was in trouble.

Hein-Hardenne called for the trainer and, after a brief return to court, felt forced to pull out.

It gave Mauresmo the victory she desperately wanted, but perhaps in different circumstances.

"All the people that still believed in me, after seven years - it's a long time," she said.

"Not only myself, but people who're working with me, believed me and pushed me, even when I was down.

"Maybe we found the way, maybe we'll try to keep going."

Henin-Hardenne said: "I was feeling so sick and I couldn't stay longer on the court.

"I'm feeling very disappointed to end the tournament this way. I'm sorry I couldn't find a little bit more."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Highlights: Mauresmo v Henin-Hardenne


Interview: Justine Henin-Hardenne


Interview: France's Amelie Mauresmo



SEE ALSO
Henin 'knew win was impossible'
28 Jan 06 |  Tennis


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