Tennis-Crash, bang, wallop - Clijsters in the final

Reuters

Sat, 30 Oct 22:44:00 2010

Kim Clijsters says family has replaced tennis as her top priority but showed her passion for the game had not faded when she battered Sam Stosur at the WTA Championships just hours after a car crash on Saturday.

The 27-year-old, who returned to the circuit in 2009 after a two-year 'retirement' to start a family, reached the final of the $4.55 million season-ending tournament in the Qatari capital with a 7-6 6-1 win over Australian Stosur.

Her semi-final victory was even more remarkable given that Clijsters was involved in what she said was a "scary" car crash on the way to the Khalifa Tennis Complex in Doha.

She was unhurt, though her manager Bob Verbeeck suffered some cuts from flying glass. A photo of the courtesy car Clijsters posted on Twitter showed extensive damage to the passenger side door, the window smashed and wing mirror hanging off.

The Belgian, who gave birth to daughter Jada in February 2008, took time to settle against Stosur but there was no stopping her once she clicked into top gear.

"I was really white before I was about to warm up," said Clijsters, who lost the first three games to the Australian.

"I was really just trying to kind of switch my mental state and focus on the match."

Just when it looked as if the U.S. Open champion was on her way out of the tournament, the adrenaline kicked in and she was back in the match.

Producing some of her best tennis of the week, Clijsters stormed back to take the first set on a tiebreak and raced to a 3-0 lead in the second as Stosur wilted in the face of the Belgian's searing serve and consistent groundstrokes.

Clijsters broke to go 5-1 up with a sumptuous backhand down the line, and put the same weapon to good use in the final game, bludgeoning Stosur into the corners before sealing victory in a quickfire second set.

Hot and humid conditions in the Qatari capital had taken some getting used to but she was happy with her game, she said.

"Obviously in the beginning it was a little bit hard adjusting to the weather here," she told reporters.

"But I felt that slowly every day I felt better, tennis-wise as well. So far I think today was my best match."

Clijsters, who won the Championships finale in 2002 and 2003, did not seem overly enthused about the prospect of driving back to her hotel.

"Maybe I'll walk," she said with a laugh.

Clijsters will meet world number one Caroline Wozniacki in Sunday's final.

 

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