Kim Clijsters took out Venus Williams 6-2, 6-1 in the finals of the Sony Ericsson Open on Saturday. The match was over in less than an hour. Great win for Kim, especially after that tough midnight battle with Justine Henin in the semis, but a disappointing end to the tournament for nearly everyone else. To think I was worrying about which Belgian would be a better challenge for Venus? (Hey, while we’re on the subject of Kim, click here to vote for Kim and Roger on the Time magazine poll of the 100 most influential people in the world. Thanks for the link, Judy!)
Kim played well, but she didn’t have to play anywhere near her best to win. After the match, Venus compared her play to Clijsters’s non-performance vs. Petrova in Melbourne. Both women commented on the challenge of playing someone who’s obviously having a bad day
“She played really consistently.” Venus said of Kim. “Maybe she didn’t play a lot of winners, but she did try to force an error. So it was smart. Sometimes when your opponent is not playing as well it can throw you off. But, you know, she played smart to just get the ball in play.”
Kim said that the key was to keep a strict focus on her own game and not to wonder about what was going on across the net:
“When you feel like your opponent is not giving their best tennis or bringing their best tennis, you just really want to try and not focus on them too much and just really focus on yourself,” Kim told the press. “Try to keep focusing on what you’re doing well.”
This is actually sound advice for us recreational players out there – who hasn’t found themselves dropping the level of their game to match a struggling opponent?
This victory nudges Kim Clijsters into the top 10. And she thinks she can go all the way to the top of women’s tennis if things keep going well:
“To be honest with you, I think if I do well at the tournaments that I play I think the No. 1 is maybe possible. . .So if it would happen, that would be great. Obviously I feel that I’m hitting the ball really well. Maybe better than I ever had. But it’s not that No. 1 is really a focus for me.”
Speaking of the World No. 1, Serena Williams has pulled out of next week’s clay court tournament in Marbella, Spain with that pesky knee injury. Kim Clijsters is taking her place.
Don’t worry, Serena fans, I think she’s going to be just fine. Here she is playing in the waves on Friday:
Well, she is looking fit!
Venus remains vague about the severity of her own knee injury, which required the attention of the trainer during the match:
Q. What is it exactly that’s wrong with the left leg?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, what’s wrong is that I needed the support. Like my knee, sometimes they need the support. At times more than others. So that’s really what happened.
Q. Was it in pain?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was like needing supportiveness.
Q. It was in pain. Does it often get worse through a tournament. Do you feel that by the semifinals?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think sometimes you have to be careful with practice, not to practice too long. I may have made a mistake with that a little bit. I know better, but Eager V kind of burst through. Overall I’m really happy with the tournament. Unfortunately, today I didn’t win the match, although I feel like this is a match I can win. Unfortunately I made it a little bit too easy. Next time around I’ll play better.
As for her participation in Fed Cup at the end of April – well, that’s a sore subject at the moment:
Q. Have you managed to talk to Mary Joe…[Fernandez, the Fed Cup captain]
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don’t think she wants to talk to me about Fed Cup right now. (Laughter.) Wouldn’t be the best answer right now. I think she has been smart enough not ask me about Fed Cup. I’m sure she’ll come and say hi, but she’ll wait a few days until I’m feeling a little better and a little less in the moment.
Q. What’s your reaction?
VENUS WILLIAMS: To be honest, I always want to play Fed Cup. I mean, to be honest, my goal was to see how I felt physically after this tournament. I do want to play and support the United States. Also, I think it would be nice to have the matches, too. So obviously I will have to make a decision pretty quickly. We’ll see soon.
And I thought this was funny :
Q. What do you do when you take time off? How do you spend your time off?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I eat a lot less, because I spend a lot of time eating a lot of food that I don’t want to eat. So I skip meals. This is probably bad, but it’s a splurge for me. For most people it’s a splurge to eat more, but it’s a splurge for me to skip meals. And I stay up late because I don’t have to go to bed early. So that’s what I do when I have time off.
A little more with Kim:
In other action on Saturday, the men’s doubles final was a specialists’ special with Lukas Dlouhy /Leander Paes defeating Mahesh Bhupathi /Max Mirnyi: 6-2, 7-5