Clijsters Wins Third WTA Championships
October 31, 2010 -- Kim Clijsters tarnished Caroline Wozniacki's year-ending number-one ranking by defeating the Dane in the final of the WTA Championships today at the Khalifa Tennis Complex, Doha, Qatar. It was Clijsters third title in season-ending event.
In her remarks, immediately following her victory, Clijsters praised Wozniacki, saying, "She has a great future ahead."
And, she does. However, this loss will haunt Wozniacki through many reminders, a multitude of them coming from the press. The barrage of questions and implications of the authenticity of her #1 ranking probably won't ease until the completion of The Australian Open next year. If Wozniacki doesn't win that, well, the legitimacy of her worth as the best in the world will be on the line full out.
This was the second time Clijsters and Wozniacki met; the first was in the final of the 2009 U. S. Open. Clijsters won that, but her victory today wasn't quite as easy. Today, Wozniacki's fierce sense of combat and drive to win took the match to three tough sets: 63 57 63.
"I'm relieved," Clijsters said on court, her face pink from her exertion throughout the match. "It was a tough battle and lots of fitness. We showed good women's tennis."
Because of the format used at these year-ending championships, the two women who won the most matches this week didn't play. Those two are Samantha Stosur and Vera Zvonareva, who both lost in Saturday's semifinals.
"Kim has found some good form this week," Stosur told Barbara Schett, former tour player turned Eurosport TV journalist, in an interview prior to the final. "She gets every shot and moves wonderfully."
It was the first time the Belgian champion had traveled to a tournament without her husband and daughter -- her family.
"I'm a little tired," Clijsters admitted, after accepting The Billy Jean King Trophy from Her Excellency, the wife of the president of the Qatar Tennis Federation. "It was my first trip to the Middle East and Doha, and I'm glad I came."
By winning the title, Clijsters earned $1.45 million US, plus $300,000 for her two round-robin match wins. Clijsters has also tied Monica Seles, at three, for number of titles won at this championship. Martina Navratilova holds the record with eight titles.
Their match today almost looked like a forgone conclusion for Clijsters, who broke Wozniacki in the first game. But a tug of war ensued. In the first five games, three breaks of server were recorded. Clijsters won that roller-coaster ride at 6/3.
Clijsters zoomed to a 4/1 lead, in the second, Wozniacki looking a bit shell-shocked. But Clijsters continued her barrage, pressuring Wozniacki to step up and strut her stuff, if she dared and if she had it in her. Fans almost seemed to lose interest, projecting the worse: they'd only see two sets. But Wozniacki wasn't done. She leveled the second set at 5-games all, broke Clijsters and served out the set 7/5.
Wozniacki had undermined Clijsters confidence enough to extend the match to three, which is much more than the Dane did at the U. S. Open in 2009. She lost that in straight sets.
Wozniacki's greatest asset is her competitive spirit. Coupled with her fitness and tennis skills, she knew how to rock Clijsters. However, she couldn't incorporate those tactics in her repertoire quite yet. Therefore, she left too many short balls for Clijsters to clobber, and her aggressive game lacked enough consistency to defeat Kim. Perhaps because of her young age, Wozniacki's petulant side shone through rather than a committed aggressive nature of a more mature player.
"I had a great week," Wozniacki told fans after the award presentation. "I want to thank my family for supporting me."
Although the runner-up said all the right things, her tone was flat; and, her disappointment was obvious.
In 2011, the WTA Championships move to Istanbul, Turkey, for three years. The president of the Turkish Tennis Federation was at the awards' presentation and accepted a symbolic flag to welcome the new venue for this prestigious event.
Clijsters returned to women's tennis last summer, after giving birth to her daughter Jada and wondering if she could return to her top form. Since then she has played in five finals. She won all five, including today's from Doha.
Congratulations to Kim Clijsters. Enjoy your well-deserved time off!