Monday, August 16, 2010

Clijsters saved by the Clouds

A year ago, Kim Clijsters made an electric return to professional tennis in Cincinnati, winning three matches before losing in the quarterfinals. This week she returned to the $2,000,000 tournament and went all the way to the title, beating fellow former No.1 Maria Sharapova in a nail-biting final, saving three match points to claim the trophy, 2-6 7-6(4) 6-2.

After a slew of upsets in the early rounds, Clijsters, the No.4 seed, was a firm favorite for the title from the quarterfinals on. She didn't lose a set until the final, where her toughest challenger - Maria Sharapova, the No.10 seed but like Clijsters a former No.1 and multiple Grand Slam winner, awaited. Sharapova had also won their last three meetings, and all in straight sets, too.

And the trend resumed. Sharapova powered through the first set and built a 5-3 lead in the second, holding three match points there - but a rain delay may have halted her winning momentum, as Clijsters was right back in the match upon resumption, battling back to push the set to a tie-break then battling back from 0-3 there, taking the match to a third set and cruising to victory.

"I was so close to losing and then this dark cloud came," said Clijsters, who finished the match off with a big running forehand down the line. "I thought I was hitting well from the baseline with her but my serve wasn't working well. During the delay I had to regroup and refocus, and when we came back to the court I played aggressively and turned it around. I'm really happy to win."

Clijsters now leads Sharapova 5-3 in thier head to head record, And Kim will also enter the top 5 for thr first time scince her "second carrer" rising to third on the ranking list.

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