/ 14 September 2009

Clijsters crowns comeback with US Open title

Belgian Kim Clijsters crowned her remarkable comeback by beating 19-year-old Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 7-5, 6-3 to win the US Open women’s title on Sunday.

Clijsters, playing only her third tournament after taking more than two years off to start a family, clinched a 93-minute victory with a forehand winner and dropped to her knees in celebration, sobbing.

The 26-year-old Belgian climbed up to the family box to hug friends and kiss her husband, Brian, after adding a second grand slam triumph to her 2005 US Open victory.

”I don’t have words for this,” she said on court during the trophy presentation ceremony. ”I’m just glad I got to come back and defend my title from 2005. It’s so exciting for me.”

Clijsters, unranked due to her long absence, was invited to play the Open as a wild card and had not competed at Flushing Meadows since her first grand slam triumph — missing the 2006 championship because of injury and the last two in retirement.

The Belgian said winning was ”not really our plan”.

”I just wanted to start these three tournaments to get back into the rhythm of playing tennis and get used to the surroundings again,” said Clijsters, who collected a $1,6-million prize.

”So I have to thank the USTA for giving me the wild card to come back here.”

It took a while for Clijsters to find the range with her groundstrokes against the ninth-seeded Dane, who was appearing in her first grand slam championship match.

By the end, Clijsters was cracking winners off both wings and registered 36 winners in all to just 10 for the defensive-minded Dane.

Clijsters scored the decisive break of the second set in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead, breaking at love in a game that saw her go into one of her trademark splits as she raced along the baseline for a forehand retrieval.

The first set was mistake-ridden for both players in windy conditions at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Clijsters traded six service breaks with Wozniacki before capturing the see-saw set thanks to a string of errors from the Dane that allowed her to break at love in the 12th game.

The Belgian, who had appeared bothered early by the change of pace in the groundstrokes from Wozniacki, made 20 unforced errors in the opening act to 15 for the Dane.

Wozniacki was up a break at 5-4 and serving for the set before Clijsters closed it out by winning the last three games.

”She’s such a great girl,” said Wozniacki, who was trying to become the first Dane to win a grand slam singles title. ”Unfortunately she beat me today. She played a great match and deserved this trophy.”

Later, Clijsters shared the trophy on court with her 18-month-old daughter Jada, who joyfully played with the silver cup. – Reuters