Toronto, Canada – SYDNEY (Reuters) - Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters have found themselves back in the old days after the pair, who grew up playing junior tennis together, set up a tantalizing all-Belgian final at the Brisbane International final on Friday.
Henin, playing her first tournament since her shock retirement in 2008, crushed Serbia's Ana Ivanovic 6-3 6-2 in a little over an hour in their semi-final.
Then Clijsters, who won last year's U.S. Open after making her own fairytale comeback, demolished Germany's Andrea Petkovic 6-4 6-2 in an ominous sign of her intentions for this month's Australian Open.
"I don't think anyone around the world expected to see this again," Clijsters said of meeting Henin in the final. "I look forward to it. Back to the old days.
"We grew up playing under-12s and sharing rooms together and we have history together."
The former Fed Cup team mates have already played each other 22 times before, with Henin holding a 12-10 advantage, but Saturday's final will be their first clash since the 2006 Wimbledon semi-finals.
"There is so much respect between the two of us so, I know sometimes people would love to hear there have been problems between us but that's not the case," Henin said.
"We are so different but we have good memories. When we were younger we were traveling a lot together ... but after that we grew up differently and went in different directions."
Henin had a surprisingly straightforward day as she defeated Ivanovic in a lopsided match on the Pat Rafter center court.
"It's a perfect situation for me as I'm in the final of my first tournament, it's a great feeling," she said.
"I didn't know what to expect with ups and downs this week.
"I need a few more months to really be at my top. I have to remember it's my first tournament back."
Clijsters looked to be in for a tough afternoon after she was locked at 4-4 with Petkovic in the opening set but reeled off the next six games to seize control of the match.
Roddick sent down 16 aces in beating Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-3 7-6 after Berdych edged past Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci 7-6 2-6 7-6.
"I knew I had to come out and play a lot more aggressively than I have had so far this tournament," Roddick said.
(Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Sonia Oxley)