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U.S. Open: Kim Clijsters routs Vera Zvonareva to complete defense of women's title

September 11, 2010 |  6:43 pm

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The unraveling began for Vera Zvonareva in the sixth game of the first set, in a flurry of forehand errors and a service break.

It picked up speed early in the second set when Zvonareva did the splits trying to track down a Kim Clijsters forehand. Zvonareva missed and in her frustration the Russian pummeled her tennis racket until the frame broke.

This didn’t help.

The second-seeded Clijsters, the defending champion, won her 21st consecutive match in this tournament along with the U.S. Open women’s title Saturday night with a thorough beating of the seventh-seeded Russian. The final score was 6-2, 6-1, and it gave Clijsters her third U.S. Open title. She won in 2005, missed the tournament in 2006 with an injury and was in retirement in 2007 and 2008 as she started a family.

Clijsters had delighted the tennis world last year by winning the Open in her first major tournament after her two-year hiatus.

Her on-court celebration with daughter Jada helped erase some ugly memories of last year's semifinal match when Serena Williams protested a late foot fault call with obscenities directed at the offending official.

Serena missed this tournament after having foot surgery and Clijsters’ toughest match in her title defense came again in the semifinals over Serena’s sister, Venus.

After Zvonareva lost her serve for the first time in the sixth game of the match, Clijsters won seven straight games and, at one point, 14 of 15 points. In the players box, Jada munched on watermelon slices while her 27-year-old mother casually pushed around Zvonareva.

It was the second straight Grand Slam finals appearance for the 26-year-old Zvonareva. She lost to Serena Williams at Wimbledon, 6-3, 6-2.

The only bright spot for Zvonareva came in the fourth game of the second set when she earned her first, and only, break point. Clijsters promptly put in her first ace of the match and a point later followed up with a leaping overhead. Clijsters pumped her fist into the silence of the stadium. Most of the night crowd was hoping for a longer fight.

The first set took only 27 minutes and finished with a flurry of Zvonareva errors. The first service break came when Zvonareva hit a forehand long for an unforced error. In the final game of the set she was broken at love after making two forehand errors to go with a backhand into the net.

When she went down 40-0 on Clijsters' first service game of the second set, Zvonareva pummeled her racket, pounding it until the frame was broken. Zvonareva won the next point, lost the game and never threatened to extend the match to a third set.

--Diane Pucin

Photo: Kim Clijsters gets into a forehand against Vera Zvonareva in the U.S. Open women's final Saturday night. Credit: Al Bello / Getty Images

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