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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tennis: Clijsters beats Venus Williams for Key Biscayne title


STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. Kim Clijsters claimed another trophy in her career comeback Saturday, winning 17 consecutive points in the second set and beating Venus Williams 6-2, 6-1 in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open.

Williams struggled to keep the ball in play, and Clijsters completed the shockingly lopsided victory in 58 minutes. When Williams hit one final errant forehand on match point, Clijsters raised her arms in triumph.

"I felt like from the beginning I was ready to go and really seeing the ball well," Clijsters said.

After retiring in 2007, Clijsters married and became a mother before returning to the tour last August. The title is her third since her comeback.

Williams repeatedly was bested from the baseline, where she won nine points to 37 for Clijsters.

"It wasn't my best day," Williams said. "She played extremely solid, but it's not like I was blown off the court. Unfortunately I was my own worst enemy."

She won only nine points in the second set, when Clijsters' roll gave her a 4-love lead.

Top-ranked Serena Williams sat in the photographers' pit and shouted encouragement to her sister, but it failed to help. Of the 55 points Clijsters won, 30 came on unforced errors by Venus.

Serena has been sidelined with a left knee injury since winning the Australian Open two months ago. In her absence, Venus had been the hottest player on the tour with 15 consecutive wins, her longest streak since 2004.

Venus took the court for the final with her right thigh wrapped, as it had been for every previous match in the tournament. She also wore a wrap on her left knee for the first time, and said she may have made a mistake by practicing too much.

"Today wasn't my best day physically," she said. "To fight errors and not feel your best, it's a mental battle."

As the match slipped away, and the crowd groaned with each Williams error, she remained impassive. After losing the 17th point in a row she slowly bent over, flexed her knees and shook her head several times, as if trying to shake out cobwebs.

She swept the next four points to trail 4-1 in the second set, but there would be no rally. Clijsters won eight of the next nine points to close out the victory.

"Venus is a great competitor, a great athlete, and one of the best women's tennis has ever had," Clijsters said. "I knew I had to come out here and play well."

While Williams struggled, Clijsters committed only 12 unforced errors.

"She played smart to just get the ball in play," Williams said.

Clijsters, who also won the Key Biscayne title in 2005, earned $700,000. She'll climb to 10th next week, the highest ranking for the former No. 1 since she returned to the tour.

Williams received $350,000.