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Another grand slam disappointment for Henin-Hardenne

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, Sep 10 (Reuters) Justine Henin-Hardenne reached all four grand slam finals in 2006 in a rousing season that left the Belgian with major disappointments.

The second-seeded Belgian fell to third seed Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-4 in the US Open final yesterday that ended the grand slam season.

''I think second place is always the most difficult one,'' said the 24-year-old Belgian, who came away with the French Open crown but saw the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US titles slip away.

''You are always disappointed to lose. It's not a nice feeling.'' Henin-Hardenne said there was no mystery about why the 19-year-old Russian was able to notch her second grand slam crown to add to her 2004 Wimbledon title.

''She played much better than I did tonight,'' she said. ''She served much better. I was not aggressive enough.

''She proved it. She served really well. She didn't give me a lot of opportunities.

''I just tried to keep fighting on every point, but she was just the best tonight.'' Sharapova pounded in 72 per cent of her first serves, did not face a single break point after losing service in her opening service game of the match and registered five aces. Her big serve also set up winners off the Russian's powerful forehand.

She was going for winners. She did come to the net. I didn't,'' the Belgian said.

''She's been brave tonight, more than me. That made a big difference.'' Henin-Hardenne, who has five grand slam crowns to her credit including the 2003 US Open title, said despite her disappointment the season was a success.

''It's been a great season for me. It's not over yet,'' said the Belgian, who has won five singles titles this year.

''The thing is I'm still healthy, pretty healthy right now.

It's the first year since 2003 I can play a whole season.'' Reuters PM VP0935

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