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Page last updated at 06:08 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Justine Henin & Serena Williams into Australian final

Venue: Melbourne Park Date: 18-31 January
BBC coverage: Every Murray match live on BBC 1 or 2
Daily from 0800 GMT: live on BBC Red Button/website, 5 Live sports extra
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Justine Henin
Henin is the second wildcard to reach a Grand Slam final after Kim Clijsters

Justine Henin will face defending champion Serena Williams in the final of the Australian Open after both women won their semi-finals in straight sets.

Williams reached her fifth Melbourne final with a hard-fought 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-1) win over China's 16th seed Li Na.

And wildcard Henin then thrashed the unseeded Zheng Jie 6-1 6-0 in the day's second semi-final.

Henin is playing only her second tournament since coming out of retirement after 18 months away.

And the Belgian is now one win from emulating compatriot Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open last September in her first Grand Slam event since ending her own spell out of the game.

The build-up to Thursday's matches had centred as much on the fact that two Chinese players had reached a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time, but that was to be the limit of their achievement.

It's an amazing feeling to have the chance to play another final in Melbourne

Justine Henin

Li, playing in her first major semi-final, put up much the better showing against four-time champion Williams, who looked exhausted in the latter stages having played a gruelling three sets against Victoria Azarenka 24 hours earlier.

The American has also had her right leg heavily strapped throughout the tournament but she started well enough, breaking Li's serve in the opening game and maintaining that advantage until the 10th game.

Li saved a set point in the ninth game, then broke Williams' serve and took it to a tie-break, but unforced errors let her down before the champion sealed it with a second-serve ace.

The Chinese player only grew stronger as a tight second set progressed and Williams was understandably frustrated when three match points went begging in game 10 and another in game 12.

A second tie-break was required and Williams clearly did not want to hang around for a final set, dominating from the outset and closing out with her 12th ace of the match.

Serena Williams
Williams has already won the Australian title four times

"I am happy I was able to pull it out, it was really close," said Williams. "I wasn't at my best today but I'm still here - which is shocking - and I'm just going to do whatever I can to stay."

The second semi-final was a much more on-sided affair, with former Wimbledon semi-finalist Zheng unable to cope with Henin's all-court game.

After Zheng held serve in the opening game, Henin raced through the next 12 games with regular visits to the net as her new attacking philosophy bore fruit.

The seven-times Grand Slam champion wrapped up a straightforward victory in 51 minutes and will surely be the fresher of the two finalists come Sunday.

Asked about her comeback, Henin said: "I was curious about how I would feel. Today was perfect - it was good to have a pretty easy match.

"I can't wait for the final. It's an amazing feeling to have the chance to play another final in Melbourne. It's fantastic for me."

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see also
Serena seals fifth Aussie title
30 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Australian Open day 11 photos
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Murray v Cilic as it happened
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Murray powers into Aussie final
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Robson sweeps into girls' semis
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Order of play
23 May 09 |  Tennis
Women's singles latest
23 May 08 |  Tennis
Men's doubles latest
02 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Tennis

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