WHILE many players complain that they have to compete in too many tournaments, Justine Henin stays at the top by playing less.
The petite Belgian has entered just 13 tournaments this season but is a rock-solid number one in the
rankings. She has won nine tournaments this year, beating her own record of eight set in 2003, and next month she will be chasing a 10th crown, at the WTA Championships in Madrid.
“It’s very important to be smart about my calendar,” Henin told Reuters. “When you win a lot of matches you can take it easy and don’t play that much, but the thing is that I want to be 100% every time I walk on the court.
“I don’t want to go and play if I’m 50%. Out of respect for the players and the fans I want to give everything.”
She said of Madrid: “I would prefer 10 titles to nine this year for sure, but it’s probably for me the most difficult tournament of the year.
“It’s the best eight players so it’s going to be a tough one and I know it. I know I’m going to be number one now (at the end of the year) so it’s just going to be a challenge to win the Championships one more time.
“It’s the last effort and I love that tournament and I’m very excited about it.”
Henin will go into Madrid as defending champion, a title she claimed against the odds last year after playing just two matches after the U.S. Open.
This year she will be boosted by winning titles in Stuttgart and Zurich, both earned by defeating French teenager Tatiana Golovin.
“I had a lot of joy this year,” said Henin, who was concerned that the split from her husband that led to her missing the Australian Open would affect her career.
“I keep enjoying my tennis a lot on the court and that has been the key of my success this year.
“Every time I walked on the court I had a lot of motivation, a lot of determination, and it’s a great feeling that I could dominate the tour for the last few months.
“But you have to work very hard and every day you have to start again and have a lot of discipline and try to be at your best, even if it’s not that easy every day.”
This means Henin rarely has the opportunity to celebrate her victories. After winning in Zurich there was no special dinner, just thoughts about how to prepare for Madrid.
“You win and then you have to be focused on something else very quickly,” said Henin. “It’s my job week after week and I try and be really focused and very professional.
“I do celebrate a lot when I win the French Open because my family and my friends are around and it’s easier.
“After Grand Slams usually, and also at the end of the season I make one big night with all the people I work with, my team, my friends, my family.” — Reuters.