Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne have one of the lengthiest rivalries among active players, having played 19 times in the past. On Thursday they will meet again for a place in the final of the French Open at Roland Garros.
Clijsters is fit enough here to win her second Slam if she can upset two-time champ Justine Henin-Hardenne, whom she toppled in the 2001 semis (Justine choked), thumped in the 2002 Aussie quarters, but went down quietly to in the Roland Garros 2003 final.
She's also lost to Henin-Hardenne at the 2003 US Open and 2004 Australian Open. Henin-Hardenne has won five of their last eight matches, but Clijsters owns a career 10-9 edge and won their last contest on Toronto hardcourts last summer.
Clijsters showed better form than Henin-Hardenne did in her lazy straight-set victory over Anna-Lena Groenefeld, which should give her enough momentum. But she doesn't sound too confident.
"Justine is the best clay court player that we have at the moment," Clijsters said. "I think you have to focus out there. I know I have to play aggressive tennis, similar to her. I think she's the best mover out there. She runs so many balls down. You have to play aggressive. She always makes you go for the extra shot. I'll have to really go for the lines. I'll have to make sure I serve well. There are 10 things you can name that I have to do well. Your game just has to be there, everything has to be there, if you want to beat her."
Henin-Hardenne said that the two have put their past personal problems with each other behind them at Fed Cup in April, but also pointed out that "we're competitors again."
Justine appears to be ready to die for a victory in her favorite locale and unless Clijsters can match her intensity, she'll be left wanting once again.