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Rediff.com  » Sports » Clijsters fights off Li challenge to clinch Aus Open

Clijsters fights off Li challenge to clinch Aus Open

Last updated on: January 29, 2011 21:07 IST

'I finally feel like you guys can call me Aussie Kim'

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Kim Clijsters won her second straight Grand Slam title and the fourth of her career beating China's Li Na to clinch the Australian Open crown on Saturday.

Clijsters struggled early before finding her rhythm to beat Li Na 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 at Melbourne Park.

The result ended the outstanding run of Li, who became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam singles final.

The win for Clijsters came in what will most probably be her last appearance at Melbourne Park -- she said that 2011 could be her last full year on the tour.

"I finally feel like you guys can call me Aussie Kim because I won the title," Clijsters said at the trophy presentations.

Her statement was made referring to her crowd favouritism that came from her former relationship with Australian No 1 Lleyton Hewitt.

Looking at Li, Clijsters said: "I think we'll have a lot more tough battles to come, hopefully a few more Grand Slam finals would be nice."


Image: Kim Clijsters and Li Na at the presentation ceremony
Photographs: Reuters
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Li upset by Chinese spectators

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Li appeared to have been upset with some of the Chinese spectators in the crowd in the third set, and asked the chair umpire to intervene. She later complained about the flashes from photographers at center court.

Clijsters led 4-2 in head-to-head matches before the match, but Li beat Clijsters in the Sydney International final two weeks ago after the Belgian player had led 5-0 in the opening set.

Li and Clijsters weren't into any mind games before the match, seen outside the dressing room doors joking and smiling with each other. Li seemed uncharacteristically nervous in her pre-match TV interview, though, and that translated on to the court.


Image: Li Na

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Clijsters was spot on from start

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Clijsters opened the match with an ace, winning the first game on four straight points, then breaking Li the same way for a 2-0 lead after just a few minutes.

But Li found her range and seemed to lose her nervousness in the third game, breaking Clijsters and then holding for 2-2.

The turnaround continued when Li saved two big break points, then broke Clijsters in the final game of the set. She set up two set points with a stinging forehand that Clijsters didn't bother to run for, then two points later stunned Clijsters with a crosscourt forehand to close out the first set in 38 minutes.


Image: Kim Clijsters

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Clijsters won the match taking four points in a row

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There were four straight service breaks to open the second set before Li held to lead 3-2. Then Clijsters held for the first time in four games to level the set at 3-3.

Clijsters, with a backhand winner to the open court, broke Li in the next game to lead 4-3.

Clijsters, who dropped serve in four straight games from the end the first set, staged a remarkable turnaround, holding serve to open the deciding set and breaking Li's service to take a 2-0 lead, just as she had in the opening set.

The Belgian player went up 3-1 when Li again lost her service for the seventh time in the match, then held in the next to go up 4-1.

Serving for the match at 5-3, Clijsters finished as she started it, taking four points in a row and winning the title when Li's last forehand landed wide.


Image: Kim Clijsters

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