INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - Roger Federer has settled some old scores.
After beating Andre Agassi in the Pacific Life Open semifinals, the top-ranked Federer defeated nemesis Tim Henman 6-3, 6-3 in the title match Sunday.
Justine Henin-Hardenne also lived up to her No. 1 ranking with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Lindsay Davenport in the women’s final.
Federer’s win was just his second in eight matches against Henman, and the Swiss star said he has gained confidence by beating players who earlier dominated him, such as Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt and now Henman.
“I feel like there are not many guys left who really have an edge on me,” Federer said. “I think this is very important for the rest of the season.”
The title was his third of the year. His only loss in 28 matches dating back to last November was to Henman earlier this year in Rotterdam.
“He certainly proved why he’s the best player in the world right now,” said Henman, who eliminated Andy Roddick, last year’s No. 1, in the Indian Wells quarterfinals.
Federer was virtually error-free against Henman, making only five unforced errors to 19 by his English opponent.
“He’s a great athlete,” Henman said. “He’s quick, but I think it’s his balance that is good. You can move him out of position, but he’s very good at holding his balance, hitting a good shot and getting back into position.”
The reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, Federer had his service broken just twice in six matches at Indian Wells. Henman never even had a break point against him in the final.
Henman was in the title match for the second time in three years; Hewitt beat him 6-1, 6-2 two years ago.
Henin-Hardenne’s victory gave the 21-year-old Belgian her fourth title of the year, and she’s off to a 22-1 start.
Afternoon temperatures on the court topped 110 degrees, and Henin-Hardenne said it was draining.
“It’s probably the most difficult conditions I ever played in,” she said. “After the long rallies, we needed a little bit of time to recover.
“But it’s part of the game. That’s why tennis is beautiful, because you need all these factors to make it a great event.”
Her last loss in one of the WTA Tour’s major Tier 1 tournaments was 25 matches and almost a year ago, to Chandra Rubin at Key Biscayne, Fla.
Davenport lost for only the second time in 17 matches this year.
“I feel like I played a great tournament, but today I lost to a far better player,” she said. “She was controlling the rallies, moving me around, and doing everything really well.”
When Davenport hit shots that looked impossible for Henin-Hardenne to reach, she often managed not only to chase them down, but ripped back winners on the run.
Davenport, on the other hand, frequently could only stand and watch as Henin-Hardenne banged shots down the lines that were well out of reach.
“She does a really fantastic job of controlling points with her forehand, running around, kind of neutralizing the opponent, hitting to either corner,” Davenport said. “She has the ability when she gets pulled wide to hit it pretty hard, and crosscourt gives the ball a jump, so I’m really far off court.”
Davenport, a two-time champion and five-time finalist at Indian Wells, fought off three match points in the final game, which went to deuce seven times. But Henin-Hardenne, who won three points with perfect lobs that Davenport couldn’t chase down, ended the match by driving a forehand just inside the line.
Watching Rafa Nadal churn his way through the claycourt season over the past few weeks, it seems nothing much has changed since his French Open triumph a year ago despite a lengthy injury layoff.
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