This year's Roland Garros was on the whole a very positive experience for Justine, after having played just one clay-court tournament - in Berlin, with a defeat to Nadia Petrova in the final.

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French Open
Few surprises in Paris
12/06/2006 AT 09:33

Despite not having won a clay title prior to the French Open, Henin-Hardenne was still confident she could emerge victorious for a second consecutive year, a mindset she owes to her coach Carlos Rodriguez.

"I've been very calm during these last two weeks, more than in the other Grand Slams I won in the past," analysed Henin-Hardenne.

"Before a few matches I wasn't feeling that well. He knows me so well, he knows how to talk to me. He always finds the good words to talk to me, so that's very important. He's a big part of my success for sure."

Knowing those facts, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see the 24-year-old win her first Wimbledon.

She reached final in SW19 in 2001, and followed that result with two semi-final appearances at the All-England Club, proving her capability of succeeding on grass.

On the other side of the net, Svetlana Kuznetsova proved she has all the tools to be a serious contender anywhere she plays.

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However, she is not completely over her first Slam slump just yet. There seem to be voices in her brain that keep yelling, "Sveta, you're not good enough," leaving her to reflect on her form a little too much.

But, when she's cutting loose and dictating play with her muscular Sanchez-Casal academy-style clay-court game, she's just about as good as Henin-Hardenne.


With the grass court season starting on Monday, at Queen's, eyes are already turning towards the summer's next showpiece event, at Wimbledon.

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After losing in the quarterfinals, Venus Williams would be wrong to think she let herself or any of her fans down with her showing at Roland Garros, and the American will be one to watch on London.

History can tell us a lot about Venus, so let's take a look at last year as a guidepost.

Venus lost at Roland Garros last year in the third round to Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria, but went on to win Wimbledon - her third Wimbledon title and fifth major career trophy.

So, judging by last year's showing, we should factor her into the thick of the title hunt come the fortnight's action on the lawns of the All-England Club.

Kim Clijsters and Nadia Petrova could also do some damage in London if the latter is not too badly hurt. And rule out at your peril the comeback kid Martina Hingis, who could benefit from the faster surface.

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Also do not forget Amelie Mauresmo - she likes grass, and she is likely to leave her demons behind her, here at Roland Garros.

Finally, you have to be impressed with teen sensation Nicole Vaidisova and the way she has played here in Paris, whilst it could be interesting to see how Shahar Peer plays at Wimbledon as she has a game that could translate well onto the grass.

Follow all the action from the grass court season right here on, starting on Monday as the tournament from Queen's kicks off!

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