Reuters

Clijsters wins title

Clijsters lands maiden Australian Open title
By Eurosport

29/01/2011 at 21:49Updated 30/01/2011 at 03:57

Third seed Kim Clijsters won her first Australian Open title with a hard-fought 3-6 6-3 6-3 win over China's Li Na at Melbourne Park.

The Belgian, who also has three US Open titles to her name, was made to look slow and sluggish for the first set and a half before bouncing back to secure the win after two hours and four minutes.

"Li Na was definitely a very tough competitor," said Clijsters, who will move up to number two in the world when the new rankings are released on Monday.

"She really brought it to me at the start of the rallies. I was on the back foot and leaning back - I don't like that.

After a nervy start, Li, playing in her maiden major final, out-hit and out-thought Clijsters to near her dream of becoming the first Chinese Grand Slam singles winner.

But the Belgian proved to have too much experience in the end as she changed the pace of the match and increasingly frustrated Li, who at one point even complained about her own fans in the crowd.

"Can you tell the Chinese don't teach me how to play tennis?" Li berated umpire Alison Lang at the change of ends.

But by the time the trophy presentation came around, the usually-genial Li had recovered her sense of humour.

"The man in the yellow shirt is my husband. It doesn't matter if you are fat or skinny or ugly. I always love you," Li said, prompting roars of laughter from the 15,000-strong crowd at the stadium.

"It doesn't matter if I win or lose because I tried my best. February 3 is Chinese New Year so Happy New Year and see you next year."

Li, who won the toss but opted to receive first, made a nervy start to the match and quickly found herself a break and 2-0 down.

In comparison, Clijsters came out all guns blazing, opening her account with an ace on the first point before going on to break to love with a forehand passing shot down the line that caught the top of the tape to take the ball even further away from Li.

But a vicious forehand into the corner of the court clearly loosened up the Chinese ninth seed and she broke back immediately when Clijsters failed to find the court with a forehand.

The Belgian, playing in her eight Grand Slam final, had the chance to restore her break advantage in the sixth game but failed to capitalise and Li immediately turned things around with a break of her own.

The 28-year-old Chinese player found a blistering cross-court ground-stroke before going on to wrap up the first set, in front of a stunning crowd, with a running forehand winner that flashed across court for the perfect passing shot.

Much like the first set, Clijsters got off to a great start in the second as she broke for the opening game when Li slapped a double fault into the net.

But once again the Belgian was unable to make her advantage tell as Li broke back in the second game, before the two players went on to trade breaks of serve for a second time.

As the topsy-turvy set went on, however, it was Li who let her nerves get the better of her, Clijsters breaking in the seventh game with a backhand down the line before going on to level up the clash just two games later when Li hit into the net.

The third set threatened to be a complete whitewash as Clijsters first held to love before breaking the increasingly frustrated Li, who hit a series of errors of what should have been routine shots.

But credit should go to the Chinese player as she managed to regain her composure to break back immediately with an inside-out backhand winner across court.

She was unable to keep Clijsters pegged back for long though and the Belgian re-established her break lead with a huge forehand down the line before she steadily held serve to march towards the title.

A very tight game from Clijsters at 5-3 offered Li a brief glimpse of hope as the Belgian missed consecutive forehands to suggest nerves might get the better of her.

But the 28-year-old produced a very impressive serving display in the next game opened up three championship points before Li send a forehand wide down the line to help Clijsters secure her second straight Grand slam triumph.

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