In what could be the women’s match of the year (and we’re only two weeks in) Kim Clijsters prevailed in an epic match against fellow Belgian Justine Henin at the Brisbane International 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6).
Clijsters jumped out to a first set win at 6-3 and with steady play soared to a double break 4-1 lead in the second. But Henin found her form and soon got back to 4-4 which unnerved Clijsters.
Henin won the second set and jumped out herself to a 3-0 lead in the third set and it looked like Henin was going to run away with it. But Clijsters steadied her game and clawed back to 3-3. But Clijsters’s first serve went awry and soon found herself down 15-40 at 3-5. But Clijsters found her game again getting things to 5-5 and then eventually forcing a tie-break in the third.
Clijsters got up 2-0 and seemed more composed than Henin who attacked every shot but fell down 5-1. But after Clijsters lost three match points(including missing a very close backhand that she thought was in), the players squared up at 6-6. But Henin served a double fault and allowed Clijsters to win the match with a forehand winner.
During an emotional ceremony, Clijsters said she would donate her prize money to the Royal Children’s Hospital she visited earlier in the week and cited how moved she was by the children and work being done there. She was saluted with a two minute standing ovation.
Despite the loss, Henin certainly gave notice she will be a force in 2010. Her next test could be a potential second round match against Serena Williams at Sydney next week. Clijsters could find herself back in the top 15 ranking wise depending on how other players fare this week.