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Comeback Queen Mom: Clijsters Wins US Open

Posted by on Sep 14th, 2009 and filed under  Top Stories, Latest News, Tennis. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

ClijstersTrophy_0913In an extraordinary chapter to a delicious comeback to competition, new mother Kim Clijsters won her second US Open title with a decisive 7-5, 6-3 victory over Caroline Wozniacki on Sunday.

Battling swirling winds and an ambitious 19-year-old opponent, the 26-year-old Clijsters continued to go for her shots, dominated off the forehand side, stood strong in incredibly athletic rallies and grabbed the points that mattered the most.

Clijsters, who also won the 2005 US Open title, came into the match far more experienced and on a roll, having knocked off former champion Venus and Serena Williams en route to the final. Even though she had taken more than two years off to get married and have a child, Clijsters returned with the same weapons, just as quick, more mature and with a better understanding of her possibilities on the court.

“At that time I didn’t look at it that way,” Clijsters said. “But maybe now I’ve become a lot more understanding of myself, how to deal when different emotions (that) come up.

“Maybe that’s something when you’re young and you get nervous. As an example, beating Venus a few rounds ago. Maybe in the past I would have been influenced a little bit about good results and then had the lack of that focus a little bit in the next round. So even the situation with Serena, those are things when you’re 18, 19, can have a big impact on you. Now I have the experience of knowing how to deal with it and knowing myself a little bit better. I think that’s the biggest difference, is that I know myself a lot better than I did a few years ago.”

Clijsters broke the Dane to go ahead 2-0 in the first set in a backhand crosscourt winner and it appeared that she might cruise to victory, but Wozniacki dug in, at times dictating play with her vicious backhand, running just as fast and hard as Clijsters and delighting in their crosscourt rallies.

Wozniacki broke Clijsters twice and went ahead 4-2, but the Belgian stormed back, and broke back to 4-4 when her foe double faulted. But the ninth seeded Wozniacki, who had won New Haven the week before the Open and who had upset Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova en route to the final, broke again to 5-4 when she won a huge scramble point that had Clijsters sprinting back and forth chasing short balls and swerving lobs.

However, Clijsters wouldn’t go away, and ran off three straight games to win the set, taking it when she got a ball into her wheelhouse and nailed her favored inside out forehand into the corner.

The wind calmed down in the second set and both women held serve to 3-2, but then Clijsters broke in the next game when Wozniacki erred on a backhand.

Clijsters appeared to grow a little nervous in the final few games but served intelligently, stayed steady and whenever she got an opportunity, banged heavy crosscourt forehands into Wozniacki’s weaker side.

“The first couple of games I wanted to get into the match,” said Wozniacki, who was playing in her first major final. “I wanted to just know what I’m up against, and I fast found out that I’m up against a really strong player that doesn’t give away any free points. I really had to fight for it. She played really well. She played aggressive. She just played better than me.”

The Belgian won the match when she put away a simple overhead and she became the first mother since Evonne Goolagong at 1980 Wimbledon to win a major.

Clijsters dropped to the ground in celebration and began to weep for joy.

Later, she would climb into the Friends’ Box to hug her husband, New Jersey’s Brian Lynch, as well as her coach, Wim Fisette, her trainer and friends.

Fisette knew once they began practicing at the beginning of the year that she’d have a shot at climbing back to the top, because Clijsters got stronger, was more relaxed as a happy mother to her 18-month-old daughter, Jada, and she began to further trust her weapons.

“It’s a surprise, but the level isn’t a surprise because she’s such a big talent who doesn’t need a year to get to her best level,” he said. “She needed a few matches, but I knew she could do it at the Open. She went every day to practice and then to play with Jada and she didn’t have the time to think about that she had to play Serena or a final tonight, because she was busy with Jada. It was perfect for her mind.”

Right after the trophy presentation ended, Jada came down to the court, pranced around and played with the trophy. Clijsters said that she was happy to play the role as hero for working mothers.

“This is something that in my wildest dreams could never imagine happening,” she said. “So I kind of have to get used to the situation. I look forward to having that role a little bit maybe. It’s something that I think as a woman and as a woman who has a family and being an athlete, I think it’s possible. I think there are other athletes out there. Obviously in tennis we have Sybille Bammer, and she’s doing really good, as well. But to win a Grand Slam now I think is obviously a big deal in women’s tennis, and the history of women’s tennis.”

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