U.S. Open: Kim Clijsters beats Venus Williams to advance to women's final
Match point was a forehand winner but the point that finally broke the spirit of Venus Williams was a perfectly executed lob, one that rose through the air, danced above the racket of Williams and landed just inside the baseline. All Williams could do with the shot was wave at it, and she might as well have waved goodbye to the U.S. Open.
Kim Clijsters won her 20th consecutive match here on Friday evening, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4, over the third-seeded Williams in a women's semifinal. The second-seeded Clijsters is the defending champion and her loaded lob gave the 26-year-old mother a service break against the 30-year-old Williams, who has won twice here but not since 2001.
Clijsters served out the match after earning the break, losing only one more point. She had begun gaining confidence in the second set tiebreak when Williams had consecutive double faults on her first two serves to go down, 3-0.
As Williams faltered under pressure, Clijsters thrived, finding more ways to hit through the wind.
Clijsters got the first service break in the third set, a game that Williams started with a double fault. Williams evened the final set in the eighth game when Clijsters briefly lost the aim on her serve. In that game Clijsters served back-to-back doubles and then, on break point, over hit a forehand that sailed long. The crowd roared for Williams, hoping for a dramatic finish but Clijsters quickly steadied herself and earned the chance to defend her title with the memorable lob in the very next game.
In Saturday night's final Clijsters will play seventh-seeded Vera Zvonareva for the championship. Zvonareva upset top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki earlier in the day.
"I just tried to make the points," Clijsters said on the court. "I tried to step up and accelerate a little bit, I tried to keep the pressure on her. I'm glad she made a few double faults in the tiebreaker. It wasn't easy but it was a fun night."
-- Diane Pucin, reporting from New York
Photo: Venus Williams, left, and Kim Clijsters react differently during their U.S. Open semifinal match on Friday. Credit: Justin Lane / EPA and Mark Humphrey / Associated Press.