SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -When she last departed Australian shores, Justine Henin left as a target of criticism.
Since then she has suffered extended injury absences and the breakdown of her marriage, so it's understandable that the world No. 1 can anticipate better times ahead.
Henin was pilloried by some for her retirement during the 2006 Australian Open final against Amelie Mauresmo, complaining of a stomach upset.
She had no chance to make amends in 2007, as she missed the tournament due to problems in her personal life.
Her path to 2008 redemption began on Wednesday, when she won her first match of the year at the Sydney International. She cruised into the semifinals by beating Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi 6-2 6-0, having previously benefited from a bye and a walkover.
Henin maintains she doesn't have a point to prove.
"I left Australia with a strange feeling two years ago and I wasn't here last year, so its a great feeling to be back again," she said.
"I feel really comfortable about what happened and I have no regrets. I was feeling so bad. I wasn't healthy enough to play that match. It's pretty tough in a Grand Slam when you're not 100 percent to take your chances and take the opportunity.
"I wanted this title so much so it was tough, but I don't have anything to prove to anyone. I'm here because I love tennis."
Henin demonstrated her determination to win an eighth Grand Slam title by reducing her offseason to just two weeks, allowing more practice time at her home in Monaco.
"I had good preparation, so I'm happy the way I am now," Henin said.
"If you think only about ranking, what can I do better? I'm the No. 1 player in the world, but that's not the most important thing. I just want to be a better player this year - that's it."
Henin will play No. 4 Ana Ivanovic on Thursday for a spot in the Sydney final where she will meet the winner of the other semifinal between Nicole Vaidisova and No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova.