From the news

Clijsters stays one step ahead of next generation

  • dgec
  • 01 November 2010
  • 08:11

At 27-years-old and with her family her top priority, Kim Clijsters could be forgiven for passing the baton to the next generation of women tennis players.

But judging by her battling three-set win over 20-year-old world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the WTA Championships final on Sunday, the Belgian’s career looks set to run and run.

Faced with an opponent seven years her junior and with a reputation as one of the fittest in the game, Clijsters outlasted the Dane 6-3 5-7 6-3 in a match lasting two hours, 20 minutes at the Khalifa Tennis Complex.

It was her third WTA Championships title after her victories in 2002 and 2003 and the Belgian did not look a step off the pace all week in hot and humid Qatar.

Playing in her first tournament since winning the U.S. Open in September following an operation to remove a mole from her right foot, Clijsters said experience had been key to getting back on the winning trail so quickly.

"After being on the Tour for so many years, you kind of know how to deal with those kind of situations," Clijsters told a news conference. "For me, obviously this year I’ve been in situations like that before where I hadn’t played a match for a while.

"I think a few years ago when I was in my ’first career’, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Now I just feel that I got to know myself a little bit better."

Clijsters only returned to the circuit in 2009 after a two-year ’retirement’ to start a family. She often brings her two-year-old daughter Jada to tournaments.

Being back on the Tour as one of the senior players had given her a new perspective on things, she said.

"I’ve never been in the Middle East so it was nice in a way to get to know the culture a little bit better. We got to taste different types of food and everything.

"Now that I’m a little bit older, I appreciate it as well. In the past, when I was younger I would go to countries that I’d never been to, but I was kind of just always focused on tennis or the hotel, and that was it."

Clijsters also took time to offer words of encouragement for Wozniacki, who has been criticised for reaching the world number one ranking without winning a grand slam title.

"The advice is not to listen to it. Because she will win a grand slam. She is too good of a player not to," said the Belgian, who also became world number one in 2003 without a grand slam title to her name.

"I think I beat (Lindsay) Davenport in L.A. when I became No. 1 for the first time. It’s an amazing feeling," she recalled.

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