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April 3, 2010

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Sony Ericsson Open 2010, Key Biscayne, Florida, USA
April 3, 2010
Editorial by Jane Voigt.

 

Jane Voigt Photo
Jane Voigt

Clijsters Claims Second Title of Year, Reaches Top 10
 
April 3, 2010 -- Fans fervently cheered Venus Williams. They sincerely wanted her to get in gear. But the three-time champion of the Sony Ericsson Open came out flat and finished flattened by a steady and better Kim Clijsters 62 61 in less and an hour.
 
"It just seemed like unfortunately sometimes when you hit a few bad shots it's not as easy to reel it in, and things start to go a little bit quicker," Venus said, in a rather docile tone.
 
"I tried just not to give her any easy mistakes," Clijsters said. "I didn't want things to happen like against Justine where I let her get back into the match."
 
This is Clijsters second Sony Ericsson Open title. She last won in 2005, the same year she claimed her first U. S. Open singles championship. Her win today ties her with Monica Seles at 28 WTA Hardcourt Titles in the Open Era. Steffi Graf leads with 37. Clijsters has said that Graf is the player she most admires.
 
Looking back at Williams's matches from the week, a keen eye could see a possible stumble from her in the final, or before, although she had been on a 15-match winning streak.
 
The match against Marion Bartoli was one of attrition. There were so many breaks of serve statisticians might have gotten it wrong. Against Radwanska, Venus looked competent and assured. But Radwanska's serve is a glaring problem against big hitting babes, like Venus. Daniela Hantuchova should have beaten Venus. However, Venus did what she should have done today - she corrected her technique and maintained dominance through to the match's victory.
 
Today, nothing worked.
 
"WasnÕt the best day," Venus said. "I expect more from myself, but I'll be ready to my next competition."
 
Williams rallied with Clijsters, but as soon as Venus moved to a ball her next shot was inevitably out. Even though Venus "likes to go fast," as she said in her press conference after her win over Bartoli, today the eldest Williams couldnÕt get out of the starting blocks.
 
Venus hit dismally from both wings, which is not her norm. Her open stance groundstrokes demand the keenest timing. But today, she hit the ball late and, as a result, sprayed them.
 
Not one to show much emotion to opponents, Venus clobbered her left thigh before she served once. That, for Venus, was a statement of frustration.
 
Clijsters, on the other side of the court, stepped in to her shots crisply. She used pace off Venus's returns. Kim's movement, since her return to the tour last summer, has improved. She gets to the ball, balances, steps in, and rips it. Her refined fitness has helped her consistently move well. Ask yourself -- when was the last time you saw Kim Clijsters do the split?
 
"I've really been trying to focus on my court position," Clijsters explained. "Williams stands on top of that baseline and dictates the rallies. The more you back up [off the baseline] the more of an angle the opponents are going to make."
 
Fans felt the gloomy atmosphere, which hung heavy over Stadium Court, at the end of the first set. To counter the downward spin, folks in the upper decks started a wave. Spirits lifted as people rose and sat, as their arms undulated. The wave rolled around the arena a couple times. Then, for the first time this week, the lower levels -- you know, where the seats cost more -- stood up and joined in like champs. Temporarily, people were happy.
 
"It's easier when things are really exciting and you're both playing really good," Kim said. "But when you feel your opponent is not giving their best tennis or bringing their best tennis, you just really want to try not to focus on them and just stay focused on yourself."
 
Clijsters will break into the WTA Sony Ericsson top ten on Monday. With The French Open the next Major in late May, she pondered another title. Of course, she wouldn't mind hoisting another big trophy.
 
"It would be nice," Clijsters began. "But, hey, if I have to win another [U. S. Open], a third U. S. Open, that would be fine, too. I love playing there. It's always been a fun and exciting tournament. Of course, any Grand Slam would be nice."
 
Sony Ericsson Open Chairman Butch Buchholz, who will retire at the end of the week, presented the trophies to Champion Kim Clijsters and Finalist Venus Williams -- two great champions of the women's game.
 
Earl "Butch" Buchholz founded this tournament in 1985. He built the Sony Ericsson Open into one of the world's premier tennis events. It was the first, outside the Majors, to offer equal prize money for men and women, and was the first to introduce "Hawkeye" line calling. Before the Sony Ericsson Open, only the four Majors invited men and women to play.
 
Mr. Buchholz thanked everyone from the podium after the women's final, including Alan Mills -- the tournament referee for the last 26 years, the WTA, Adam Barrett -- the tournament director, and the sponsors.
 
He will step down as chairman to pursue new entrepreneurial opportunities.
 
"I'm looking forward to spending more time with my family. I definitely plan on remaining active in tennis, and helping to promote this wonderful sport."
 

 
[14] Kim Clijsters (BEL) d [3] Venus Williams (USA) [red dress] 62 61
 
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Earlier Columns from this Event:
 
April 2, 2010 Sony Ericsson Open: Roddick Ousts Rafa, Berdych Takes Care of Soderling - Roddick, Nadal, Soderling, Berdych
April 1, 2010 Sony Ericsson Open: Distractions - Williams, Bartoli, Henin, Clijsters, Youzhny, Soderling, Berdych, Verdasco
March 31, 2010 Sony Ericsson Open: Saving The Best For Last - Nadal, Tsonga, Roddick, Almagro, Clijsters, Stosur, Henin, Wozniacki
March 30, 2010 Sony Ericsson Open: Young and Old, Relatively
March 29, 2010 Sony Ericsson Open: Waiting For The Sun
March 28, 2010 Sony Ericsson Open: I Know You
 

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