Clijsters comeback continues at US Open
Kim Clijsters hasn’t been defeated at Flushing Meadows since 2005. It was a four-year absence which has been defined by injury, retirement and the birth of her child.
Three games in to this year’s tournament and the Belgian’s unbeaten run continues. Handed a wildcard, she had already overcome Kutusova, Bartoli and Flipkens.
But Clijsters’ comeback was predicted to come to an abrupt halt as she approached a fourth round clash with old foe Venus Williams.
A match billed as ‘Supermom vs Superwoman’ saw the former have the better of the opening exchanges.
The first game proved a tight affair. Williams struggled to find rhythm with her serve. The American was forced to defend three early break points before finally wilting under the pressure of Clijsters’ aggressive ground strokes.
The rampant Belgian went on to steam roll the hard-hitting third seed in the following five games in the first set.
Clijsters refused to be bullied by the ferocious shots emanating from the opposite side of the court. She produced well-timed and expertly placed replies, frustrating Williams.
Even when Venus served up a rocket at 118 mph, the Belgian hit back with a cracking return deep into the court allowing her opponent no time to settle.
A stern faced Williams was well and truly ‘Belgian Baglled’ in under half-an-hour as Clijster stormed to take the set 6-0.
The second set saw a reversal of roles. Clijsters, who enjoyed utter domination of the first set, appeared to falter. For the first time in match she looked tired.
Venus meanwhile seemed intent on rescuing some pride. Her wounded ego sent rasping shots past a lunging Kim.
The ‘comeback Mom’ had no answer to the rejuvenated Williams. Serve after serve rifled down at the Belgian who was beginning to find the net rather than the lines.
Errors began to creep into the game of the 2005 US Open champion. A couple of double faults and ten unforced errors aided Venus to her own clean sweep as she won the second set to love.
It was one set all. A Clijsters knock out in the first. A Williams knockout in the second. And as you would expect, the third was a much tighter affair.
Both players swapped early blows. The crowd were being treated to some ferocious shots which were met by thrilled grasps from spectators.
The Clijsters cross-court backhand became a regular occurrence and it forced Venus to shuffle out of position, allowing the former world number one to apply the finishing touch and leaving Williams in despair.
Williams, after steadying her serve in the second set, saw it start to crumble in the third. A wayward forehand was followed by a double fault which edged the Belgian ahead.
The rallies were getting longer. After Clijsters held to make it 3-1, she immediately put her opponent under pressure looking for a double break.
The pair swapped shots in a pulsating rally that saw a deft drop shot by Clijsters returned by the American. Moments later she was left despondent as Clijsters produced a perfect lob out of Williams’ reach.
Valiantly Venus held on to her serve. But she was unable to strive off the increasingly offensive play from her feisty opponent.
The remarkable return of Kim Clijsters was secured after the Belgian fought off two break points, overcoming the number three seed and seting up a clash with 18th seed Na Li in the quarter finals.