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Kim Clijsters defends US Open title

NEW YORK: Kim Clijsters defended her US Open title on Saturday by crushing the challenge of a shell-shocked Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-1. It was a blowout of a final with Clijsters clamping a stranglehold on
PTI September 12, 2010 8:54 IST
PTI
NEW YORK: Kim Clijsters defended her US Open title on Saturday by crushing the challenge of a shell-shocked Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-1.

It was a blowout of a final with Clijsters clamping a stranglehold on the game from the start and never allowing the less-experienced Russian a chance to claw her way back into it.

The popular Belgian second seed clinched her third Grand Slam title after exactly one hour when she whacked another forehand winner past a bewildered Zvonareva.

"A little bit of experience definitely helps," she said. "It's tough (for Zvonareva), but it took me six or seven finals until I finally got one."

A distraught-looking Zvonareva said: "Kim just played tremendously well and she deserved to win."

The 27-year-old Clijsters was playing in her third US Open final, having won the title in 2005 and last year when she stepped out of a two-year retirement, during which she gave birth to a baby girl, to become the first wildcard to take the trophy.

Her tough three-sets win over Venus Williams in the semi-finals was her 20th straight win at Flushing Meadows spread over five years.

Zvonareva, a year younger at 26, reached her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in July, losing in straight sets to Serena Williams, after proving that she could control her volatile temperament.

She reached Saturday's final without losing a set and with a huge straight-set win over top seed and last year's runner-up Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in the semi-finals.

The two finalists had played each other seven times, with Clijsters leading the series 5-2, but it was Zonareva who had won their last two encounters, including a three-sets victory in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Games went with serve until 3-2 for Clijsters when a Zvonareva double fault and two unforced errors set up a break point for the Belgian which she took when the Russian hit a forehand marginally long.

Zvonareva tested Clijsters with some big-hitting down both flanks in the next game, but the second seed more than held her ground and her serve to lead 5-2.

The defending champion then piled on the pressure to break Zvonareva to love in the following game for a one-set lead.

Clijsters won the first 10 points of the second set to jump out into a 3-0 lead with Zvonareva losing her cool and smashing her racquet in abject frustration.

Zvonareva finally broke a run of nine games in a row against her to get to 3-1, but she just could not live with the relentless pressure that Clijsters was applying with each rally.

The Russian did manage one break point in the following game, but Clijsters blasted that out of the way to take a 4-1 ahead.

A double fault from Zvonareva set up another break point which she saved with a timely ace, but Clijsters then hit a booming forehand winner and a second double fault from the Russian made it mission impossible for her.