TORONTO – Unlike the swirling winds at the Rexall Centre earlier this afternoon, beating China’s Shuai Peng wasn’t a breeze for Justine Henin.
While the Belgian player did not open the match as smoothly as she would have liked, she still managed to move to the quarterfinals by beating Peng in straight sets (7-5, 6-2).
The weather was an obvious factor in Justine Henin’s early difficulties as strong winds made ball movement completely unpredictable at times.
At a post-game press conference, the player heavily favored to win the entire Rogers Cup tournament on Sunday said that the weather was a major factor in the game.
“It’s hard because it’s tough to say where the wind comes from, and it’s turning a lot in the stadium,” Henin said. “But it’s the same for both players, and you just have to be patient, stay very calm and be focused on every ball.”
Henin struggled in the first set and just managed to avoid a tiebreaker when Peng made an unforced error leading to Henin breaking her serve in the pivotal 11th game of the first set. Conversely, Henin held on to hers, won the first set (7-5) and went on to dominate the second set, playing with the ease that fans are accustomed to seeing from her.
“Yeah, I was feeling better in the second set than in the first. I was feeling a little more relaxed, and I could deal with it better than the second set,” she said. “In these conditions, you really have to be concentrating on every point and stay very calm and be tolerant which is tough.”
Henin said that while she had a strategy going into the match, this had to be changed because of the wind.
“You have to deal with conditions, even if you had a clear tactic at the beginning,” she said. “Sometimes you just have to adapt it during the match.”
Henin moves on and will play Nadia Petrova (who defeated Patty Schnyder earlier in the day) in the quarterfinals. Other players that advanced today include Nadia Petrova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Zi Yan, Tatiana Golovin, and Virginie Razzano.
Jelena Jankovic plays Sybille Bammer tonight and Dinara Safina takes on Marion Bartoli in the late game.