Clijsters makes US Open final after Serena outburst
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:42
It had the makings of one of the memorable womens matches of recent times – the in-form returning Kim Clijsters facing world No.2 and defending champion, Serena Williams – but nobody could have foreseen a great match being remembered for an unsavoury outburst that handed Clijsters a dramatic 6-4 7-5 win.
The rain delays meant that neither womens semi-final was played until Saturday, when both matches were played simultaneously. While Caroline Wozniacki and Yanina Wickmayer fought it out on Louis Armstrong, the much-awaited showdown between Clijsters and Williams took place on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
And it was the Belgian who edged the two high-quality sets, breaking in game ten of the first set to nick it 6-4, prompting Serena to pick up first a warning and then a code violation for smashing her racket in anger.
The second set was also close, with 2005 champion Clijsters recovering an early break to stay with defending champion Serena until the business end of the set. But the spectacle was entirely overshadowed by the drama of the conclusion.
Serving at 5-6 15-30, Serena was called on a foot-fault on her second serve, bringing match point up for Clijsters. Despite appearing to have maintained her composure, Serena had something to say about the foot fault and went over to the line umpire, gesturing with a ball and waving her racket in her direction.
In the most extraordinary end to the match, the chair umpire and the line umpire discussed what had been said between player and official, prompting the umpire to call tournament referee Brian Earley courtside.
After a short deliberation Serena was awarded a second code violation for unsportsmanlike behaviour, and the resultant penalty point handed the set and the match to Clijsters 6-4 7-5.
At the end of the match, a detached Clijsters remained at her end of the court, unaware of what was happening. Serena went to her, shook her hand, they exchanged a few words and then Serena left Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Afterwards, Clijsters talked about how her focus had simply been on the match, and how Serena had spoken to her at the end.
She just said, Good luck. I hope you win. You know, we always got along well, and I think just unfortunate that a battle like that has to end like that.
“Maybe we can get together and have some calming lessons – Williams
Speaking after the match Serena, who unsurprisingly would not be drawn into a conversation about the drama, did say that Clijsters had played well and with a hint of sarcasm commented: I think it’s really good to have her back on the tour. Maybe we can get together and have some calming lessons.
No doubt the line umpire at the centre of the drama would like that too.
In the other semi-final, Caroline Wozniacki defeated fellow 19-year-old Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 6-3, making her the first Danish player ever to reach a grand slam final.
I’m in a grand slam final, I’m in the US Open final. I cannot describe it with words – I’m so excited,” said Wozniacki, “It’s a dream come true to play the finals of a grand slam, and now I’m here. I also have absolutely nothing to lose.”
Clijsters and Wozniacki have never played against each other, but they have been on the same court together.
“Kim and I played an exhibition together in Hong Kong, I think it was in 2006. We played the doubles together,” Wozniacki said. “She’s such a sweet girl. She’s such a nice person. I’m so happy she’s back on tour.”
Kim feels the same way about Wozniacki She’s very consistent. You know, she’s a super nice girl, as well. I’ve been able to get to know her a little bit better. I knew her a little bit from the past, but then got to know her a little bit better over these past couple of weeks. She’s a very sweet girl.
World No.9 Wozniacki had never progressed further than a grand slam quarter-final, while Clijsters, bidding to be the first women’s wildcard to lift the title, is looking for her second grand slam success after winning in New York in 2005 – the 26-year-old’s one grand slam title from her five final appearances.
The womens final will be played on Sunday after the mens semi-finals. Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro are up first at midday local time, 5pm in the UK, followed by Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.