27 Jan 2011


Jan. 27 • In Melbourne, Kim has wrapped up her spot for the women's singles final on Saturday night with a 6-3 6-3 win over Russia's Vera Zvonareva.

In a repeat of the US Open 2010 final, Kim and Zvonareva again faced off, and again the outcome was the same, which Kim was obviously happy with.

'Today I was able to just stay very aggressive throughout it all and keep my unforced errors down and put a lot of pressure on her. Yeah, so, I mean, it's good. I'm very happy with the way I ended this today', she said after the match.

Also at stake today was the right to be the No.2 player in the world when the rankings are released on Monday ― a secondary prize compared with the opportunity to win a major.

Zvonareva must have liked her chances early when she broke the No.3 seed in the opening game, but any confidence gained from that was quickly quelled minutes later as Kim broke straight back.

A hallmark of Zvonareva's matches this past week and a half has been her shot making. Today though, the No.2 seed was relegated to the passenger seat as Kim took control.

Zvonareva was pushed from her regular spot on the baseline back a couple of feet where she spent most of her time defending while Kim dictated play.

With games still on serve and Kim leading 4-3, a disastrous attempted smash from Zvonareva that caught the frame and flew past the baseline proved to be the catalyst for the Russian's downfall. Had the smash found its target the first set would have been level at 4-4, instead Clijsters grabbed the break to take an imposing 5-3 lead and duly served it out.

There were break points on offer in the opening game of the first set, but this time it was Kim who was in with a shot at an early lead. It wasn't to be, Zvonareva sending a clear message that she wasn't ready to let this match go.

The Belgian took on the role of puppet master in the second set as she ran her opponent from one side of the court to the other before finishing points off either at the net or with a well angled winner from either wing.

Zvonareva wasn't looking like the confident in control world No.2 that she'd been in her previous five matches, today the Russian at times seemed unsure of how to break through the Clijsters defense, which she spoke about after the match.

'I think she played a very good match, very clean match. I tried to hang in there. I knew what I had to do, but I think she was executing her shots really well', said Zvonareva.
'The quality of my shots weren't maybe good enough to hurt her today. She was playing fast, and that maybe affected my game a little bit, and I was playing a little bit too short and passive. I was trying to turn it around but, yeah, she was on top of me today and it was a little bit difficult for me.'

And in the third game, she cracked. Kim breaking the second seed's serve to take a lead that Zvonareva wouldn't be able to chase down.
Not that she didn't have her chances. In the eighth game Zvonareva had two break point opportunities but was unable to capitalise as Kim came over the top of her to hold serve then, adding insult to injury, broke Zvonareva the next game to claim the second set and the match 6-3.

The win gives Kim a shot at her 4th major, having already won three US Open titles. It also gives Kim the opportunity to avenge her final loss here in 2004.

'It's nice to be in another Grand Slam final here. You know, obviously when you're close and having played a few semifinals and one final, I think you kind of just tease with that feeling, you know, of maybe going the whole way.'

Her opponent, Na Li, will be playing for her first major after defeating top seed Caroline Wozniacki in the other semifinal played earlier. It was a win that has great significance for not only herself, but also her country.

Li and Clijsters played in the final of the Medibank International Sydney earlier this month, a match that Li won in straight sets despite Clijsters being the favourite. And Li is looking forward to the return bout.

'She's nice person; good player. Tough player also. Yeah, another challenge. Of course it's tough match. Tennis never have the easy. So I mean, I was in final already, so nothing to lose. Yeah, just like beginning of the year just like before. I don't need think about too much. Yeah, because if we play final, it's Saturday night so I still have two days. I can totally rest right now.'

Clijsters was equally respectful of Li, without giving too much away.
'She's playing with obviously a lot of confidence; so am I. Should be a good one.'

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