Clijsters repeats as US Open champion

Belgium’s Kim Clijsters won her second straight US Open women’s title on Saturday after crushing seventh-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-1 in the most lopsided triumph in 34 years.

The second-seeded Clijsters hit 17 winners while making just 15 unforced errors against a nervous Zvonareva to match the three games lost by American Chris Evert in her 6-3, 6-0 demolition of Australian Evonne Goolagong in 1976.

Clijsters (27) extended her Flushing Meadows match-winning streak to 21 in a row, having also won the title in 2005 before missing a year due to injury and two more to start a family.

“It’s been an incredible year, being back in the Open and for the first time I’m able to defend my title,” Clijsters said at the trophy ceremony.

Last year her infant daughter Jada came on court to cavort around the shiny silver trophy after Clijsters struck a blow for working mothers everywhere with a grand slam victory in just her third tournament back from her hiatus.

Saturday, curly-haired Jada looked on from the stands, sucking a lollipop as her mom made quick work of Zvonareva.

Clijsters cruised through the first set in 27 minutes after twice breaking Zvonareva’s serve. The Russian, appearing in her first final at Flushing Meadows, gifted Clijsters a break in the sixth game with a double fault and three unforced errors.

Then Clijsters wrapped up the set with a service break when Zvonareva slapped a backhand into the net.

Another double fault by the Russian, who was also runner-up at Wimbledon this season, in the sixth game of the second set put Clijsters up by two breaks and she quickly ended the 59-minute match with a forehand winner in the next game.

It was the quickest women’s final since officials started keeping track of match times in 1980.

“Kim just played tremendously well today. She deserved to win,” said the Russian, who burst into tears at the end of the match, undone by the Belgian’s bullet groundstrokes and by her own 24 unforced errors.

Clijsters, the first woman to defend her title at Flushing Meadows since Venus Williams in 2001, tried to console Zvonareva after the match.

“A little bit of experience definitely helps. She has improved so much,” said Clijsters, who lost her first four slam finals before beginning her US open run of success.

“Vera just keep it going, it will happen.”

Clijsters pocketed $2,2-million for her efforts. In addition to the $1,7-million winner’s prize she received a $500 000 bonus for finishing second in the US Open Series of tournaments leading up to the grand slam event. – Reuter

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