On the Baseline Tennis News
FLUSHING MEADOWS, New York—Back…Back in the New York Groove…a song by the 1970’s rock band KISS was blaring on the loudspeakers in a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The newly crowned U.S. Open champ, Kim Clijsters ran up to her player’s box after winning the championship match. Clijsters, the two-time U.S. Open champ and mother of 2 1/2 yr old Jada, had beaten an unlikely opponent, as well as the last Russian standing, Vera Zvonareva.
Clijsters set the tone early on in the first set. She had broken Zvonareva to take a solid 4-2 lead. It was apparent that Zvonareva couldn’t keep up with Clijsters, who took the first set 6-2. In typical Zvonareva fashion, she sat through the changeover with a towel over her head to block out the world.
Zvonareva seemed defeated from the start of the second set. She reached to make a backhand shot, did a split, missed the ball, and slammed her racquet on the ground in frustration. She then double faulted to give Clijsters the 2-0 lead in the second set.
The crowd was clearly rooting for Zvonareva, almost out of pity, knowing that something wasn’t clicking in her game. Their efforts didn’t seem to make much of a difference. She was slow, and showed very little power in her shots. Clijsters took the third game in the second set. Zvonareva then switched to a new racquet, which seemed to do the trick (temporarily). She won the game, but was still trailing 1-3. After a long rally, Zvonareva came to the net, and Clijsters seized the opportunity for a lob, but the ball went long. (Score an extra fist pump for Zvonareva.) She tried to break Clijsters with 3-4 cross court shots to Clijsters’ forehand, but Clijsters held, taking the set to 4-1.
Zvonareva’s first ace (and her only ace) came when she was down 1-4 in the second set, but didn’t help much. She double-faulted the last point of the game, giving Clijsters a 5-1 lead, and a chance to serve for the match. Kim was fast on her feet, and dictated points all the way through the match. She hardly had time to break a sweat. In just 59 minutes, Kim Clijsters had beaten the No. 7 seed Vera Zvonareva in straight sets 6-2, 6-1.
This was a second consecutive Grand Slam final for Zvonareva, with yet another disappointing end. She had 24 unforced errors (compared to Clijsters’ 15). Her first serve percentage averaged at 66%. Going into the match, Clijsters lead their head to head 5-2, but Zvonareva had recently beaten Clijsters twice before this final, so she had every reason to believe she could win it all.
After the match, Clijsters told Zvonareva that it took her five or six times being in a Grand Slam final before she won her first one. “That was probably one of the most frustrating things in my Grand Slam losses in the final was that I wasn’t able to give—show my best tennis out there,” said Clijsters.
In Zvonareva’s press conference, she talked about the differences between her and Clijsters in this match. “Physically, she was just a much better player than me.” She also admitted that one of the things that she has to learn is how to pace herself at Grand Slams, which, according to Zvonareva, could mean not playing doubles in addition to playing singles.
Kim Clijsters has now defeated both of the Williams sisters in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, and this year has walked away with $2.2 million dollars in prize money.
Not bad for two weeks of work.