September 15, 2009

Positivity: Clijsters wins US Open in return from retirement

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:00 am

From New York City:

Kim Clijsters cradled the baby in one arm, the trophy in the other.

The joy of motherhood. The joy of winning the U.S. Open.

Clijsters made history Sunday night, capping a comeback from two years out of tennis to become the first unseeded woman to win the Open – and the first mom to win a major since 1980 – with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki.

When it was over, Clijsters collapsed to the ground and started crying – tears of joy, probably mixed in with a little bit of shock, too. Her 18-month-old daughter, Jada, watched from a suite with a pacifier in her mouth, but later came down to the court to take part in the celebration.

Guess what mommy got for you, sweetie! A Grand Slam title.

“It still seems so surreal,” Clijsters said. “Because it wasn’t in the plan. I wanted to come back here, get a feel for it, play a Grand Slam so I wouldn’t have to come back next year and learn the new experiences all over.”

…. Some might have called this the mother of all upsets, but by the time she reached the final, against the resilient-but-still-learning 19-year-old from Denmark, it was hard to view it that way.

Clijsters beat both Williams sisters and two players seeded in the teens. She matched Venus and Serena power shot for power shot and showed she could play Wozniacki’s patient game – and play it better.

“She’s playing because she thinks it’s fun and because she likes it,” said Wozniacki, who is too young to have played Clijsters during her first career. “I really think she might be a better player now than she was before.”

This one was nothing like the Williams match – before it turned sour – which was filled with short, hard-hitting rallies in which Clijsters moved one of tennis’ best players at will and made her hit shots from places she normally doesn’t.

Instead, it was a waiting game, and when Clijsters fell behind 4-2 in the first set, she showed she was willing to play it.

A 29-shot rally here, a 25-shot rally there. Drop shots and lobs. Clijsters did that. Went for more, too, and finished with two more winners than unforced errors (36-34) – a good ratio on any day – and 26 more winners than Wozniacki.

“Against the Williams sisters, you feel if you hang in there, they might give you some easy points,” Clijsters said. “She didn’t do that. You had to be patient, but not play along with her game.”

After getting back on serve, Clijsters held off two break points at 5-5, then broke Wozniacki for the fourth time to win the first set. The second set was easier and before they knew it, Jada was on the court posing for photographers.

Clijsters didn’t even have a ranking coming into this tournament because she hadn’t played enough tournaments to get on the list. She’ll come in at around No. 20 when the new rankings are released this week, but probably won’t try to improve on that right away.

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world being a mother,” she said. “I just can’t wait to spend next the few weeks with her and have her routine schedule at home again.” ….

Go here for the full story.

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