Kim Stars in Fairytale of New York

21 09 2009

Fate, destiny, written in the stars; some of the descriptions I’ve heard since Kim Clijsters capped a remarkable return to tennis by winning the US Open. Featuring in just her third tournament since her comeback, she took a wildcard into the final Slam of the year as an unseeded entrant, and left with all the spoils. It’s the heart and soul of dreams.

She began with an expected win over Viktoriya Kutuzova before leaping her first hurdle, in the shape of Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli, in three sets and then took out compatriot and friend Kirsten Flipkens. Next she faced the biggest test of her comeback thus far in Venus Williams and took a remarkable match 60 06 64 to progress to the Quarter Finals. Here she disposed of Li Na to set up a Semi Final match against world number 2 Serena Williams. Unless you’ve been in hiding for the last couple of weeks then you know what happened in THAT match as Clijsters progressed to the US Open Final in straight sets, 64 75. The final obstacle between the Belgian and an unbelievable victory was Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki, who had overcome her own personal millstone in Sorana Corstea before knocking out French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, American wonderkid Melanie Oudin and another Belgian in Yanina Wickmayer. Wozniacki, who capped a superb year by quailifying for the year end championships with this run, couldn’t halt the irrestible force and succumbed to Clijsters 75 63. Our champion was then joined on court by her young daughter Jada, much to the photographers delight.

So what next for Clijsters? Well she’s scheduled to play in Luxembourg next month, a tournament she’s won five times previously, and has announced her entry into Brisbane at the start of next season. Until then she’s going to relish the last couple of months and let it all sink in, I think – as well as enjoy looking after her daughter at home again. Clijsters has been a revelation since her return and has looked every inch the mature player, composed and patient, something she could perhaps teach some of her younger counterparts on the WTA Tour.

It was a grand way to complete the 2009 Slams and a better story couldn’t have been scripted; alongside the dream run of Oudin, the fall of big name players, Serena’s meltdown and a first-time Slam finalist, it was a tournament full of excitement and freshness. Well done Kim.


US Open: One Week In

7 09 2009

The US Open is now entering the second week and there’s been plenty of entertainment from the women, some matches good, some matches exciting and a fair share of big names sent packing.

Perhaps the most enticing story so far has been that of Kim Clijsters, continuing her return from retirement as an unseeded player in New York. She passed her first round test as expected with a 61, 60 win over Kutuzova to set up a rematch with Marion Bartoli; the Frenchwoman took the first 75 but Clijster flicked the switch and took the next two sets at the expense of just three games. In the third round she comfortably saw off compatriot and friend Kirsten “Flipper” Flipkens to set up a fourth round match against No. 3 seed Venus Williams. Her opponent has spent this tournament again playing with wrapped knees and had seen off Dushevina, Mattek-Sands and Rybarikova to reach this round, and although she  is clearly having problems with her knee, it isn’t stopping her from competing in doubles with her sister. The match was turned on it’s head in the first two sets as each player bagelled the other, first Clijsters and then Venus, and a tight third set saw just one break in favour of the Belgian, enabling her to send Venus crashing with a 64 victory. Next she faces Li Na in the quarter-final before potentially facing Serena Williams in the semis.

The American crowds are all excited about 17 year old Melanie Oudin who has had great success so far, coming from a set down to beat Elena Dementieva in the second round, before doing exactly the same thing in the next round to Maria Sharapova. After beating Shvedova, who herself pulled off an upset with the beating of Jelena Jankovic, Oudin faces another Russian today in the form of Nadia Petrova for a place in the QF, and the top half of the draw has really opened up following Oudin’s dismissal of two top players, added to the exit of Dinara Safina who lost to Petra Kvitova after scraping her way through the first two rounds. Victoria Azarenka is also out at the hands of Francesca Schiavone and the two main seeds left in that half are Caroline Wozniacki and Svetlana Kuznetsova – who face each other today in a fourth round match. Kvitova faces Yanina Wickmayer and the winner will meet either Gisela Dulko or Kateryna Bondarenko in the QF. Either Wozniacki or Kuznetsova will face the winner of Oudin-Petrova.

In the bottom half it’s a much tougher affair. Tournament favourite Serena Williams will face Flavia Pennetta in the QF after the Italian saved six match points to see off Vera Zvonareva, and the winner of that will probably face Clijsters. It’s heavily expected that the winner of the US Open will be whoever makes the final from the bottom half, although I’m sure Wozniacki and Kuznetsova – and others – will have an opinion on that.

With all the relentless talk about the number one ranking this year, it would be very interesting if Svetlana Kuznetsova were to win the US Open. I think we’re all sick to death of hearing how Safina is the number one even though she hasn’t won a Slam, and Serena holds three Slams but is number two… well, ff Kuznetsova comes out on top here, she and Serena will each hold two Slams; Serena the Australian Open and Wimbledon, Svetlana the French and US Open. But then Kuznetsova holds a Tour title and Serena holds none, so will the debate open up into fierce arguments of how Kuznetsova should be the number one ranked player? I doubt it, but it would be interesting.

Anyway, for what it’s worth I chose Clijsters at the start of the tournament and I’m sticking with my choice as we go into the second week. Go Kim!