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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 September 2006, 00:02 GMT 01:02 UK
Gamewatch: Sharapova v Henin
US Open, Flushing Meadows

Final result:


6-4 6-4


By Piers Newbery

Second set:

Sharapova 6-4 Henin-Hardenne
Henin-Hardenne sets about staying in the match by hammering a second serve on the opening point, but Sharapova gets level with a winning serve. A superb off-forehand follows as she goes 30-15 up.

Henin-Hardenne then nets a backhand to give Sharapova two championship points. The 19-year-old Russian takes it when Henin-Hardenne nets a forehand and collapses to the court. Leaping and screaming follows - it's Grand Slam title number two.

Sharapova 5-4 Henin-Hardenne
If Sharapova is nervous she's got a funny way of showing it. She kicks off the game with a forehand winner down the line that is the equal of anything seen over the last two weeks.

But Henin-Hardenne shows her usual fighting spirit to haul herself back into contention and force Sharapova to serve out for the title.

Sharapova 5-3 Henin-Hardenne
An unbelievable game from Sharapova - she signs off a love effort with a blistering ace and looks to be charging towards the title.

Sharapova 4-3 Henin-Hardenne
Sharapova is playing superbly from the baseline. Unusually, the Russian is mixing up her pace and even coming to the net sometimes and it has clearly ratttled Henin-Hardenne. The Belgian nets a backhand at deuce to give Sharapova a break point, but the Russian is pushed back and nets a forehand.

The pressure builds on Henin-Hardenne though and she sends a forehand way out - break point number two. Another netted forehand and Sharapova has the break.

Sharapova 3-3 Henin-Hardenne
Fantastic stuff - a high-quality game hits a peak in an incredible rally with Sharapova serving at 40-30. Henin-Hardenne takes it to huge applause and looks ready to break. Sharapova responds with two aces and screams "C'mon!" That could prove a decisive moment.

Sharapova 2-3 Henin-Hardenne
For the first time in the match both players hit form at the same time - Sharapova firing one tremendous winner and Henin-Hardenne responding by attacking the net. The Belgian takes the game to 15.

Sharapova 2-2 Henin-Hardenne
Sharapova is in great form now, kicking off the game with a drop volley - her second of the match - and dominating with her huge serve.

Sharapova 1-2 Henin-Hardenne
Some clever serving gives Henin-Hardenne the game to 15 but she has still to really get going in terms of her groundstrokes.

Sharapova 1-1 Henin-Hardenne
Some of Sharapova's serves would not look out of place in the men's final - she is blasting some beauties down the middle - but at the same time she throws in two double faults. it is another winner down the 'T' that gives her the game.

Sharapova 0-1 Henin-Hardenne
Henin-Hardenne gets back on track, although she does sky one forehand into the upper tier and then bury another into the bottom of the net. The Belgian just cannot find any consistency - brilliant one moment, awful the next.

First set:

Sharapova 6-4 Henin-Hardenne
Sharapova opens with a big serve out wide and then cracks a forehand into the corner with an enormous scream. Two points later she waits an age for an Henin-Hardenne defensive lob to bounce but thumps it away.

A wild forehand from the Russian brings the score back to 30-30 but she then digs deep and hammers another forehand winner - set point. A swinging serve onto the centre line is good enough and Sharapova leads by a set.

Sharapova 5-4 Henin-Hardenne
A fizzing return on the first point helps Sharapova into an early lead and she is soon at 15-40 - two more break points. Henin-Hardenne finds a first serve to help save number one, but Sharapova puts the pressure on with a big return on the second and Henin-Hardenne nets a backhand.

Sharapova 4-4 Henin-Hardenne
Sharapova has certainly got her game face on - she looks like someone has just nicked her purse - but it is not surprising as she is having to give everything to stay with Henin-Hardenne. A love game is the result.

Sharapova 3-4 Henin-Hardenne
Henin-Hardenne shows off the best backhand in women's tennis with two sweeping cross-court winners and throws in a clinical volley. The Belgian looks much the more comfortable at the moment.

Sharapova 3-3 Henin-Hardenne
Sharapova opens with a solid high volley punched into the corner followed by an ace. Henin-Hardenne responds by clambering all over the Sharapova second serve and whipping away another forehand winner on her way to deuce.

A superb Sharapova second serve and a controlled rally see her hold.

Sharapova 2-3 Henin-Hardenne
Henin-Hardenne is not firing on all cylinders yet but she holds serve comfortably enough.

Sharapova 2-2 Henin-Hardenne
The last game looks to have settled Sharapova and she finds her rhythm on serve before leaving a Henin-Hardenne shot that lands on the line. "It was two feet out!" bellows a helpful, and possibly blind, spectator. The Russian clearly knows she messed up because she does not challenge but she goes on to hold.

Sharapova 1-2 Henin-Hardenne
It could be because she's based in America, she's the underdog, or simply because she's 6ft tall and blond, but the crowd is very much on Sharapova's side. She gets to 0-30 up but nets a return and then sends a forehand long when pressing hard.

A superb half-volley drop shot gives Sharapova a break point and she unloads on the return, forcing an error and giving the Russian a huge boost.

Sharapova 0-2 Henin-Hardenne
Sharapova looks extremely nervous. She dumps a forehand in the net, double faults to slip to 15-30 and again on her first game point. After a couple of deuces Henin-Hardenne steps into a forehand and smacks in into the corner - break point. Another forehand winner is swatted away and the 2003 champion leads by a break.

Sharapova 0-1 Henin-Hardenne
Henin-Hardenne has been a little inconsistent on her way to the final and she starts in similar fashion. Three wild shots from the baseline are interspersed with two sublime backhands and an ace as she fends off two early break points from 15-40 to hold serve.

  • Gladys Knight gives it her all in a barnstorming version of "God Bless America" as the capacity crowd of over 23,000 on Arthur Ashe Stadium prepare to welcome the players.

    The two women enter the arena carrying surprisingly small bunches of flowers. Sharapova is back in her Audrey Hepburn-inspired black number. Henin-Hardenne is wearing tennis clothes.

    Women's US Open singles draw
    07 Sep 06 |  Tennis

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