Kim Clijsters started strongly, lost her way a little and finished fast in the final of the WTA Championships - Doha 2010, scoring a 6-3 - 6-3 win over Caroline Wozniacki for her third career title at the season-ender.
Coming into this year's event, Clijsters was the only player in the field who had a winning record at the WTA Championships in previous years (she had been 15-6 here, with none of the other seven players better than even). She was also on a roll in big matches, winning all five finals since returning to tennis last year.
All of that may have played into a very fast start for Clijsters, who burst out to a 6-3 4-1 lead; Wozniacki, who had won more matches than anyone this year, did not surrender - in fact she raised her level in a big way, upping the aggression and winning seven of the next eight games to win the second set and break for 1-0 in the first game of the third. The match would turn once more, however.
Clijsters broke right back in the second game of the third set and was again the frontrunner from there, firing an inside out forehand winner to break again for 4-2, holding easily for 5-2 then holding again two games later to complete the victory.
"At the moment I'm kind of relieved it's over. It seemed like it would never end," Clijsters said on court right after the match. "It was a tough battle. We should some great tennis and some great fitness - I think we showed the crowd some great women's tennis tonight. This was my first time in the Middle East and it been a very amazing experience."
Having also won this event in 2002 and 2003, Clijsters is the fifth player in WTA history to win here three or more times (Martina Navratilova won here eight times, with Steffi Graf winning four times and Monica Seles three times).
Clijsters won her fifth WTA title of the year, following triumphs in Brisbane, Miami, Cincinnati and the US Open; the only player who won more titles than Clijsters this year was Wozniacki (the Dane won six titles this year).
Wozniacki has a lot to be happy about after this week, making it to one of her biggest career finals (last year's US Open final was arguably her only bigger final, and she fell to Clijsters there too) and, by virtue of beating Francesca Schiavone in round robin play, securing the year-end No.1 ranking - she rose to No.1 on October 11 and is the 10th player ever to finish a year No.1.
"This may be disappointing for Caroline, but she has a great future," Clijsters added. "I also have to congratulate her on making it to the No.1 ranking."
"This has been a fantastic week for me - the support is always amazing here," Wozniacki said. "I had a great week. Kim just played amazing today and she really deserved to win."