Clijsters: Now you can call me Aussie Kim
Originally published on: 02/09/11 12:54
Given that Kim Clijsters treats the hard courts of Flushing Meadows as if they are her own concrete courtyard, the absence of the Daphne Akhurst Trophy from her title collection was beginning to mystify.
On her day, the Belgian flattens the life out of lesser mortals on hard courts. On off days, she still wins – more often than not – only with a little more mercy. But in her eight previous attempts at the title on Melbourne’s blue plexicushion surface, the 27-year-old had managed just one whiff of the title – her 2004 defeat to Justine Henin in the final – and four semi-final defeats.
That in mind, Clijsters positively flew out of the blocks in her seventh Grand Slam final, winning the opening nine points as Li Na, China’s first Grand Slam singles finalist, appeared burdened by the weight of expectation.
The ninth seed shed that weight soon enough, discovering the heavy-hitting rhythm that had taken her to victory over Clijsters in the Sydney final. It was a mentality that saw her hit back and seal the first set, before the Belgian stepped up a gear to claim the second and set-up a nail-biting finale, which eventually swung the way of the former world No.1 as Li finally buckled under the pressure.
Dissolving into tears as her achievement sunk in, Clijsters delivered a typically thorough speech after claiming her fourth Grand Slam title. She name-checked the dentist who had fixed her chipped tooth on arrival in Melbourne, thanked her uncle for indulging her superstition by wearing his ‘lucky’ green pants, and told the crowd that she finally felt deserving of the nickname that had stuck with her Down Under since she courted Lleyton Hewitt in the early stages of her career.
“I finally feel like you guys can call me Aussie Kim, because I’ve won the title,” she giggled.