Miami Diary: Saturday April 3
Originally published on: 04/04/10 15:01
There was razzmatazz in abundance at Crandon Park ahead of the women’s final between Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters. First we were treated to a thumping display from the Taiko drummers who banged out a strirring number on their rhythmic drums which, accompanied by warrior-like calls, proved quite fitting in the lead up to the impending on-court battle. Then, while the drums were cleared away and the American flag was paraded on court, jazz singer Nicole Henry – who has three international top 10 selling jazz CDs to her name – poured her heart into a spine-tingling, hair-raising rendition of the US national anthem. Just as Henry wrapped things up, an ear-drum breaking roar shuddered the Stadium Court structure as a jet shot past in a blink-and-you-missed-it moment. The timing on all counts – drums, anthem and fly past, was meticulous. It’s not as if the jets could circle locally waiting for their cue – they were belting from Fort Lauderdale as Nicole hit the high note. An immaculate display of American efficiency, and boy can Miami put on a show.
Three-time champ bulldozed
After a rousing build-up, the final lasted only 58 minutes as Kim Clijsters, watched by daughter Jada, outplayed a somewhat jaded Venus Williams to become the Sony Ericsson champion. Venus comitted 30 unforced errors to Kim’s 12 on her way to a 6-1 6-2 defeat. Twenty-six-year-old Clijsters coped well with the American’s big-serving start to the match and admitted afterwards: “In the beginning I was a little worried with the serves she was hitting at me. The pace was very high. So if she would have been serving like that throughout the whole match, it would have been tough to break her.”
Asked if she was mistiming her serves, the heavily-strapped Venus replied: “I think it was more or less my groundstrokes, I mean on my serve I go for it a lot, so that’s kind of the norm. I mean, I did start missing more first serves in the second set so that didn’t help my cause.” After adding a second Sony Ericsson title to the one she took in 2005, Clijsters said: “From the return onwards, I was just really making sure that I was going for the lines and just kept her under pressure from there onwards.”
The head to head between the two now stands all square at six-all – stay tuned for a fascinating clay court season.
Clijsters whisked off to South Beach
After a busy twelve days here, Miami’s groovy South Beach was the destination of choice for the new champ, not to have a well-earned rest, but to pose with her trophy. After the obligatory post-match interviews, Kim grinned happily as she posed in front of a bunch of snappers who had been squeezed into a mini van and taken to the beach to get the coveted pot shot. No surprise that Kim travelled separately to the scenic venue.
Men’s Dubs Champs
Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes defeated Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi 6-2 7-5 to bag the men’s doubles trophy. It maybe small comfort to Britain’s Ross Hutchins and his partner Jordan Kerr that they were beaten in the first round (6-4 7-6(4)) by the eventual champions. After such a short women’s final, the crowd were treated to some fast-hitting, athletic and competitive doubles action.
Venus’s name was at the top of one leaderboard today. She had previously topped the list of fastest women’s servers at 118mph (190kmh) and today she went faster when she banged down a rocket at 125mph at the end of the fifth game of the first set. Kim is second in the roll of honour with a serve of 108mph. She didn’t need to pull that one out to win today – her fastest serve was only 105mph. For the record, Justine Henin is equal second with 108 mph – proving there really is very little between her and her Belgian counterpart – while Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli takes fourth place in the list of the tournament’s speediest servers with an 103mph effort.
Champions for Chile
In a great end to women’s finals day, Gustavo Kuerten and Fernando Gonzalez took to the court to play Andy Roddick and Jim Courier to raise money for those affected by the Chilean earthquake. It was great to see “Guga”, who retired in May 2008, back on court and a real treat for fans given the popularity of the former World No.1 and three-time French Open Champion (1997, 2000, 2001).