Amélie's smashing win, but...

Poor Amélie! At last the French number 1 women's tennis champion has lifted a grand slam title, by beating the Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne in the Australian Open 2006 final. But Mauresmo, while no doubt rightly over the moon about her first slam, must feel slightly let down by the way her opponent retired at 2-0 down in what looked like being the final set. Mauresmo was leading 6-1, 2-0 when Henin-Hardenne complained to the umpire of having "no energy".

Why she did not go through the motions of another four games is a bit puzzling. I remember the wonderful Australian, Evonne Gooligong-Cawley badly spraining her ankle in the last set of a Wimbledon match, I think it was a semi-final against Martina Navratilova. She was coming back into the match at the time, and while racing across the court for a return, let out a painful scream and ended up on the ground in tears. But she got up and limped to close out the match, the crowd standing in ovation. That was Evonne, that was then. Maybe she should have withdrawn, but maybe out of respect for her opponent or the crowd, or because in pain she was confused, she carried on.

If Mauresmo feels a tweak of disappointment in the haze of joy, it will be compounded by the memory of the semi-final, against Kim Clijsters (another Belgian...coincidence?). There, in a tighter match, her opponent did a Gooligong, but decided to withdraw.

Mauresmo is a great player, not my cup of tea in terms of style (I prefer the cat-like Hingis, the elegant Pearce...and the sublime Gooligong of yore!), but she seems decent and determined, and is a deserved champion. I hope she wins another Slam in 2006, but against opponents that take her right to the wire. A Hingis-Mauresmo final would be a great treat.


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