Lawn Tennis
I Love Paris In The Springtime
By Ken Miller, Lawn Tennis Correspondent, Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 10:36am CST USA
I Love Paris In The Springtime, Rafael Nadal, Justine Henin
3 Time French Open Defending Champions Rafael Nadal and Justine Henin
PARIS, FRANCE ( - Both approaching Roger Federer-like dominations at Roland Garros, known in the United States as the French Open, world number two Rafael Nadal of Spain and world number one Justine Henin of Belgium return to tennis' second grand slam tournament of the year later this month both as three time defending champions having both taken the singles titles in 2005-2007.

21-0: The perfect records of Nadal and Henin during the last three years at the French Open.

Henin turned in a poor performance in January at tennis' first grand slam, the Australian Open to lose to Maria Sharapova of Russia in the quarterfinals 6-4, 6-0, but was able to take titles in Sydney and Antwerp.

Today in her first clay court tournament of the year, Henin won in round two in Berlin at the Qatar Telecom German Open defeating Yung-Jan Chan of Taiwan 6-0, 6-2. Henin, also a French Open champion in 2003 last lost at the French Open in 2004 in the second round to Tathiana Garbin of Italy 7-5, 6-4 and more often than not finds her best game on the clay.

In the quarterfinals at Berlin this week, Henin could face her major rival American Serena Williams who is 20-1 this year. I'd hoped Williams could get her ranking up a few spots this year to number four to avoid another quarterfinal meeting with Henin in Paris, but Williams has not played frequently enough to do so.

As impressive as Henin's claycourt record is, Nadal's record is even more so impressive. Both own 21-0 perfect records during the last three years at the French Open. However Nadal has never lost a match at the French Open and since winning Monte Carlo in 2005, has compiled a 103-1 record on clay to earn the nickname the King of Clay.

Nadal's lone claycourt loss since 2005 came from world number one Roger Federer of Switzerland 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the Hamburg final last year. Federer however has lost at Paris to Nadal the last two years in the final.

But this spring look out for Federer, who has hired a new coach Jose Higueras, a clay court expert to infuse new direction into his game. The French Open begins May 26th.

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