Clijsters outlasts Wozniacki in Doha

Sun, 31 Oct 17:50:00 2010

Kim Clijsters won her third WTA Championships title with a hard-fought 6-3 5-7 6-3 win over world number one Caroline Wozniacki in Doha.

- 0

Clijsters also won in 2002 and 2003 and became just the fifth woman in history to win the season-ending tournament three times, joining Martina Navratilova (who won eight times), Steffi Graf (five) Chris Evert (three) and Monica Seles (three).

The Belgian world number three, who also won the US Open for the third time earlier this year, looked to have the match wrapped up whilst leading by a set and 4-1 before Wozniacki bounced back to steal the second set and force the match into a decider.

But Clijsters rediscovered her form in the nick of time and broke twice in the final set, while Wozniacki could only manage one break, to wrap up the win after two hours and 19 minutes.

"I felt like it was never going to end," said the Belgian in a courtside interview.

"It was a really tough battle with some great shots, great tennis and great fitness. I'm glad that I won, obviously it's disappointing for Caroline but I don't know how many more years I'm going to keep doing this! She has a great future ahead of her."

For Clijsters the win is confirmation of her return to the top echelons of the women's game since her comeback from retirement last year.

But for Wozniacki's critics, doubts will remain about her position at the top of the rankings as she once again failed to beat one of the world's top players in a major final.

While few would argue that the Dane's consistency throughout the year sees her deserve to be at the top, the pressure will now be on the 20-year-old world number one to win the Australian Open in January and lift her first Grand Slam title.

Clijsters had struggled slightly in the early stages of her semi-final against Sam Stosur but showed no signs of suffering the same problems in the final as she broke to open the match, albeit at the fourth attempt, with a backhand passing shot across court.

Wozniacki did break back in the fourth game, but Clijsters looked only temporarily threatened as she broke again in the very next game when the Dane sent a forehand long down the line.

And this time the break was enough to see the 27-year-old wrap up the set, breaking for a third time in the ninth game when Wozniacki once again struggled to contain Clijsters hitting and slapped a forehand long.

The second set appeared to be following much the same pattern when Wozniacki again found herself a break down after another forehand ended up in the net, with Clijsters looking supremely confident.

But a combination of a lull from the Belgian and a nothing-to-lose attitude from Wozniacki, suddenly saw the Dane get herself back in the match by breaking back in the seventh game with a forehand winner across court.

And although more break points went begging two games later, Wozniacki had wrestled the momentum from her opponent and broke to get ahead in the 11th before serving out to level the match.

The two players traded breaks at the beginning of a tense final set before Clijsters was finally able to make her heavy hitting tell once again with a break in the sixth game.

The Belgian pushed Wozniacki around every inch of the court before producing a blistering backhand winner across court to seal the break that was to prove decisive as the Dane allowed herself to become irritated by something said in the crowd.

Credit should go to Wozniacki though as she once again gamely attempted to fight her way back into the match, earning herself two break back points whilst Clijsters was serving for the title.

But Clijsters saved them both with some impressive defensive play before sealing the title on her second match point when Wozniacki slapped a heavy second serve into the net.

"It's been a fantastic week for me," said the Dane. "Kim just played amazing today and she deserved to win."

WTA Doha: Final

Pippa Davis / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account