Kim breaks Chinese hearts

Updated: 2011-01-30 08:11

(China Daily)

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Belgium star plans to scale back schedule again after Australian Open triumph

MELBOURNE - Belgium's Kim Clijsters came from a set down to beat Li Na 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 and win her maiden Australian Open title on Saturday, dashing Chinese hopes of a first ever Grand Slam win.

After a shaky first set, three-time US Open-winner Clijsters fought her way back in a thrilling final in front of 15,000 fans at Rod Laver Arena, including a vocal Chinese contingent.

"I finally feel like you guys can call me 'Aussie Kim' because I won the title," Clijsters told her Australian fans, who gave her the nickname when she was engaged to Lleyton Hewitt.

The 27-year-old Clijsters claimed her fourth Grand Slam title, and her third since ending a long career break to give birth to her daughter, Jada. She is now considering scaling back her schedule again.

Clijsters went into the tournament as the firm favorite but was made to battle all the way by Li, who was hoping to complete her own fairytale by becoming the first Chinese - or Asian - player to win a Grand Slam.

"Li and I have played some amazing matches over a number of years - she's a tough competitor," Clijsters said. "It's been a great effort for her these part two weeks and I hope we can play many more Grand Slam finals in the future."

Li had been on the front cover of many of China's major newspapers as the world's most populous nation looked to the 28-year-old from Wuhan to create a piece of tennis history.

But despite looking the likely winner in the first set, Li faded in the third and became increasingly agitated as the match slipped away, complaining about comments and flash photography from the crowd.

"Tell the Chinese (fans), don't teach me how to play tennis," she fumed to the chair umpire, after being broken in the second set.

Clijsters had opened in fine style as she won the first eight points of the match, but once Li settled down and found her range with her dominant groundstokes, and her forehand in particular, she steadily took control.

"(The first set) was going too fast for me," Clijsters said. "She was doing everything so well, she was hitting both sides, forehand and backhand, and she was serving well."

Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 01/30/2011 page8)


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