The grand duel predicted between Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters in the Sony Ericsson Open Final never materialized. Instead, it was a 58 minute blow out as Clijsters ran away with the match 6-2, 6-1 to gather her second championship trophy in Miami.
After the semifinal with Justine Henin where Clijsters almost let the match get away, Kim knew that she would need to be well focused for the finals. That’s exactly how Clijsters came out. From the first game, Clijsters placed Venus’ serve under fire with two errors at 0-30. Despite recovering to hold, this was a glimpse of how the rest of Venus’ day would unfold. With Venus unable to find a first serve, Clijsters punished a second serve, forcing Williams into a forehand miscue for break point. With another forehand error by Williams, Clijsters obtained the break for 2-1. During the change over, Venus briefly called the trainer to re-wrap her left knee and right thigh. Despite two double faults the subsequent game, Clijsters managed to get enough help from Williams in terms of mistakes to consolidate for 3-1. The thinking was that Williams would rise up and challenge; however, that did not happen. Up 40-15, Venus botched an overhead then double faulted for deuce. Williams also threw in a second straight double fault to give Clijsters break point. When Venus netted the volley, Kim had a double break edge at 4-1. Thus, Clijsters sprinted away with the first set.
Still, the torture was only beginning for Williams. Subsequent to starting the second set with a double fault, Venus faced break point when a backhand crosscourt traveled long. Despite erasing that with a good serve for deuce then getting to game point, Venus could not string together two consecutive points. With a forehand up the line winner, Clijsters arrived at her second break point. Venus allowed Clijsters the easy road to a second set lead by double faulting. Following Clijsters consolidating with a love game, Williams shoveled herself into a 0-30 ditch. At that moment, the crowd demanded a response from Venus with a round of applause. Yet, this was to no avail. Williams dumped another backhand into the net to face triple break point. Unlike her match with Henin, Clijsters was not in a charitable mood. Kim provoked a forehand crosscourt mistake from Venus to again widen the gap by a double break . Next, with a backhand down the line winner, Clijsters grabbed an impressive 4-0 lead. The subsequent game, Venus at least held to make the score respectable. However, serving to lengthen the match, Venus committed her 29th unforced error to hand Kim triple match point. With another flying forehand by Venus, Kim won the championship.
Taking nothing away from Clijsters, this was far from the performance expected from Williams, a 5 time Wimbledon champion. Therefore, in the post match interview, MiamiTennisNews.com tried to ascertain exactly what the issue was with Venus:
Q. Were you having timing issues with [your] serve today?
WILLIAMS: No, . . . I think it was more or less my groundstrokes. . . on my serve I go for it a lot, so that’s kind of the norm. . . I did start missing more first serves in the second set, so that didn’t help my cause.
Q. Is it surprising to see how well Kim and Justine have done after their comeback and to just be able to go through a lot of top ranked players right off the [bat]?
WILLIAMS: Yeah,. . . they’re playing really, really well. This is just great and amazing for them. They’re playing great.
After the match, Clijsters had this to say in reference to competing against someone who is struggling: ” you constantly have to tell . . . and remind yourself to really keep [being aggressive and move forward], especially when you see that you have a second serve . . . it’s easier when things are really exciting and you’re both playing really [well] . . . you almost have to be dominant and . . . bring your best level. But, when you feel like your opponent is not giving [her] best tennis or bringing [ her] best tennis, you just really want to try . . . not focus on [her] too much and just really focus on yourself. [To] try to keep focusing on what you’re doing well.
For Clijsters, this win represents her 37th career title and her second of the year. Kim prevailed in Brisbane over Justine prior to the Australian Open. Clijsters’ ranking will move from 16 to 10 on Monday. As a result of this defeat, Williams’ 15 match winning streak come to an end. Regardless, Venus will get a slight bump in the ranking from 5 to 4.