Henin ends season on winning note

World number one Justine Henin rallied past Russia’s Maria Sharapova, 5-7 7-5 6-3, in the final of the WTA Championships on Sunday to claim back-to-back titles at the prestigious season-ending event.

World number one Justine Henin has rallied past Russia’s Maria Sharapova, 5-7 7-5 6-3, in the final of the WTA Championships to claim back-to-back titles at the prestigious season-ending event.

Already guaranteed to finish number one in the world for the second consecutive season, the win gave Henin her 10th title of the season, making her the first player to reach double digits since Martina Hingis took home 12 trophies in 1997.

The Belgian, who went 5-0 en route to claiming the 39th title of her career and the first prize, becomes the first repeat winner of this event since countrywoman Kim Clijsters in 2002-03.

Despite missing the early portion of the 2007 schedule – including the Australian Open – due to the breakup of her marriage, Henin put together a career season.

She reached the final in 11 of the 14 events she played and compiled a 63-4 mark along the way.

Henin ends the season with a WTA Tour-leading 25-match winning streak – she hasn’t lost since being stunned in the Wimbledon semi-finals by Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion also had a 12-set win streak at this event heading into her match with Sharapova, who promptly ended that.

The players each traded a break early in the first set leading up to classic 12th game, with Henin was on serve trailing by a 6-5 count.

Sharapova saved three set points in the game while Henin persevered through seven set points before eventually to caving in to the Russian.

Henin was uncharacteristically poor on serve during the 70-minute first set as she double faulted six times and converted just 49% of her first serves.

She regained her championship form in the second set, earning a break to go ahead, 6-5, before serving out the set.

Sharapova made things interesting in the third set with a break to knot things at 3-3, but Henin responded by winning the next three games to close out the match, which lasted 3 hours, 25 minutes.

Sharapova, who would not have qualified for this event if not for the withdrawal of Venus Williams, finished an otherwise disappointing season on a high note despite the loss.

Limited to 13 events due to leg injuries and persistent bursitis in her right shoulder, the former world number one earned just one title in 2007.

The 2004 champion of this event, Sharapova had gone unbeaten in four matches here before falling to Henin for the sixth time in eight meetings.

The doubles final was won by top-seeded Cara Black and Liezel Huber, who claimed the 250,000 first prize with a 5-7 6-3 10-8 victory over second seeds Ai Sugiyama and Katarina Srebotnik.

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