Mike T. Limpag

Fair play

JUSTINE Henin fans need not fret.

She may have lost the Australian Open finals to Serena Williams, but a runner-up finish in her first Grand Slam after her first retirement—there’s bound to be a second—isn’t too shabby.

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If she could do that in her first Grand Slam post-retirement, what is there that she can’t do?

The lady who coined the phrase “Impossible is nothing,” is showing us that impossible, is really nothing.

She lost, yes. And quite miserably too, in that third set.

But a break here and there could have turned things all around. And if not for a little rust from not having competed for the previous 20 months, I’m sure the story would have had a different ending.

She wasn’t even ranked, but of the 128 women—the top 128 women as the Australian Open website touted—she was one of the two left standing.

Sure she looked quite amateurish in that final game but as an ex-No. 1 she sure played a whole lot better than the then current No. 1 who lost to Serena Williams last year.

Henin’s success—calling her runner-up finish a failure is wrong—comes after another Belgian, ex-No. 1 and former retiree won the last Grand Slam.

Kim Clijsters, though, inexplicably went awol in a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Nadia Petrova, who was then put in her place with a 7-6, 7-5 loss to Henin.

Henin got inspired by Clijster’s US Open victory and though she may not have been able to emulate Clijsters comeback success, her runner-up finish after her 20-month retirement is very remarkable.

Heck, everything she has done on the court is remarkable.

At a shade under 5’4,” and at a feathery 126 pounds, she shouldn’t be a top-ranked player.

That time spent away from the game and seeing how the girls play “musical chairs” with the No. 1 spot may have also boosted her confidence that she could still get back in the game and be on top.

It also made me think that maybe it’s time for my Maria to retire.

She could get married and spend time with her family, maybe throw in a kid or two.

Then when she gets that itch—not that seven-year itch—she could come back.

And maybe she could win that fourth slam.

That stats, so far, would be in her favor. The last two ex-No. 1s who retired found success in their comebacks. Clijsters retired at 24, Henin called it quits at 26.

Maybe my Maria could call it quits before she turns 23 this April 19 then we can all read about her amazing comeback at 26?

EL TERRIBLE. Well, everybody it seems is on a comeback trail and my favorite Manny Pacquiao victim, Erik Morales, wants to be one of them.

Morales, who last fought at 135 pounds, wants to come back and join the crowded welterweight division, where Manny is campaigning.

El Terrible may have lost his last four fights, but I believe he still got it. He could have finished his career undefeated had he Floyded his way out of tough fights.

Also, he was the only one who beat Pacquiao in the last 10 years.

A comeback may not be such a terrible idea.

(mikelimpag@gmail.com)