Mauresmo Beats Clijsters For Antwerp Hat-Trick
Published February 18, 2007 12:00
ANTWERP, Belgium - With one last ace on match point, Amélie Mauresmo clinched her third consecutive Proximus Diamond Games title Sunday, a victory that would also grant her the honor of being the first to hoist the event's coveted diamond-studded racquet.
Mauresmo, seeded No.1, pulled off a 64 76(4) championship win over No.2 seed Kim Clijsters with that huge serve. It was a competitive affair from start to finish. Mauresmo grabbed the crucial first set break in a marathon 18-point fifth game, holding the rest of the way for a one set lead. After trading breaks early, they stayed on serve in the second through the tie-break, where the Frenchwoman took charge.
"I'm very happy with the way I played," said Mauresmo, who mixed her topspin drives with an abundance of net play. "It was a great match, and it was incredible to play against Kim in this stadium. What an unbelievable feeling!"
The win, her fifth straight over Clijsters, gave Mauresmo a tournament hat-trick, which meant she'd also receive the aforementioned racquet, encrusted with over 1,700 diamonds. The Frenchwoman was understandably overjoyed.
"It's the most beautiful trophy I have ever seen," Mauresmo added. "I have no idea what I'm going to do with the racquet. I really don't know."
Mauresmo had had a somewhat disappointing year leading up to Antwerp, losing prior to the finals in all three of her starts. But in the Belgian city she really came through, earning her 24th career title and improving to 24-20 in finals.
"It was a matter of a few points here and there that made the difference; it could have gone either way," Clijsters said. "Overall, I was very happy with the level I played at today and throughout the week. It's been a good week."
Clijsters, who was a winner in Antwerp in 2004, fell to 34-17 in career finals.
A pair of 19-year-olds, namely Anna Chakvetadze and Golovin, also made noise in Belgium, falling to the two finalists in tight semifinals. Chakvetadze took down last week's Paris [Indoors] champion, Nadia Petrova, in the quarters, improving to 4-0 against her compatriot; Golovin had an early round victory over Patty Schnyder. Chakvetadze fell to Mauresmo in three; Golovin fell to Clijsters in two.
This year's hottest doubles team just got hotter. Cara Black and Liezel Huber, who have already won titles this year at the Australian Open (their second Grand Slam as a team) and Paris [Indoors], claimed the Antwerp doubles title Sunday afternoon with a 75 46 61 victory over Russians Elena Likhovtseva and Elena Vesnina. The No.1-seeded African team were pushed in the first two sets by their No.4-seeded opponents, but ran away with the match in the third for their 14th win in a row (12 of those have come in straight sets).
"It was a tough one out there today; they're a good team, they get a lot of balls back - so we had to fight for every point out there," Black said. "The main thing was we regrouped and played a good third set. A turnaround in attitude, mainly."
"If anybody had thought we'd do this well in the beginning of the season we'd be amazed but we have worked hard so it's a really exciting time for us," said Huber on the duo's incredible start to 2007. "We're not going to let it go to our heads; we'll play in the next tournament and take it from there."
Black, a former world No.1 in doubles, now owns 30 career Tour doubles titles; Huber, a former No.4 in the team discipline, holds 18.