Kim Is ‘Grand’ Mom Again

Kim Clijsters

Kim Clijsters

It was over in less than 60 minutes, but it doesn’t matter. Kim Clijsters will savour her 6-2, 6-1 victory against Vera Zvonareva in the US Open final much longer than she did last year’s championship. Clijsters’s 2009 title run was the first major moment in her life that she was unable to share with her dad Leo, who left abode from lung cancer in January 2009 that had driven her back to the tennis court and out of a 27-month retirement.

“Last year my emotions were very confusing because there were happy & also sad moments at the same time,” she said. After Clijsters defeated Zvonareva in 59 minutes on Saturday night, her joy was unfettered. To come through under that kind of pressure, which was non-existent last year when she was unseeded, “is what probably I’m most pleased with over these last 2 weeks, that I was able to do that.”

“It’s always an honour to go back to a place, especially a Grand Slam, where you’ve done well and you’ve won, and you want to bring your best tennis again. I know if I give my best, I’m capable of beating the best players.”

Before the 27 year old Kim became the queen of the Open with 21 consecutive victories at the tournament, her claim to the crown was roundly questioned. This year it was the 26-year-old Zvonareva who found in the same state. The rub on her was that she was very emotional, as seen by her tear-filled breakdowns during the loss in the women’s doubles final at Wimbledon and in a fourth-round defeat to Flavia Pennetta at last year’s US Open.

The first crack in Zvonareva’s composure on Saturday appeared 19 minutes into the first set, when Clijsters earned her first break point, in the 6th game. She won the point when a backhand by Zvonareva sailed out.12 of her 17 forced errors and 9 of her 24 unforced errors came on her backhand. Zvonareva lost the first set when she netted a backhand after digging herself a 0-40. It was the first set she had dropped in the 2010 open.

On the changeover, Zvonareva remained on the court and shooed a ball girl out of the way so she could hit a backhand over the net. Neither her backhand nor her disposition improved in the second set. In the first game, Zvonareva slid into a half-split position to retrieve a shot deep to her backhand side. When she could not reach the ball, she smashed her racket onto the court three times until it was as frayed as her nerves seemed to be.

“When I smacked my racket, I was like, ‘Come on,’ ” Zvonareva said in the post match interview. “The ball is just two steps away. I was able to get this ball in previous matches, and right now I’m just like so slow, can’t move.” She added: “You just let the emotions out. Maybe it will help.”

“Kim played fabulous today,” Zvonareva said on the court as she fought back her tears. “She had the full right to win.” The brevity of the match 59 minutes made it the shortest women’s final at the Open since at least 1980, the first year the matches were timed. It was the most one sided finals match since 1969.

Clijsters said she told Zvonareva afterward: “Just keep it going. It will happen.”A grateful Zvonareva said, “She’s not only a great champion but also a great person.” She added, “Maybe because she said that, I’m not so disappointed right now.” The scene of Clijsters holding aloft the trophy did not impress Jada Lynch, Clijsters’s 2.6 years old daughter, who warily backed away when Clijsters tried to let her touch the trophy and later was overheard telling photographers, “No photos.”

The first time Clijsters played in an Open final was in 2003, when the tournament was missing the game’s top two women, Serena and Venus Williams, because of injuries. Clijsters said that her straight-sets loss that year to her fellow Belgian, Justine Hardinne helped her better to control her emotions. Clijsters became the first woman to successfully defend her Open title since Venus Williams in 2001.

By: Devesh D. Bhuwad

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