A Shriver Contradiction: Clijsters Can Reach Finals
Clijsters can reach Aussie Open final
Shriver says player can stop dominance of Serena, Venus
MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan. 22 — Kim Clijsters can prevent a fourth successive all-Williams grand slam final, former world number three and tennis pundit Pam Shriver said on Wednesday.
CLIJSTERS FACES WORLD NUMBER one Serena Williams in the Australian Open semifinals on Thursday while second seed Venus Williams tackles Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne in the bottom half of the draw.
All eyes will be on form player Clijsters, who is aiming to reach her second grand slam final following her runner-up finish at Roland Garros in 2001, and Shriver says the Australian crowd will cheer her as one of their own.
“Down here, because of boyfriend Lleyton Hewitt, she is the one that people will support almost as one of their own,” Shriver — former WTA mentor of Venus — said in Melbourne’s The Age newspaper.
“They will not cheer against the Williams sisters because the Williams sisters are professional, they are the best in the world, they are athletic and they have a fabulous story to tell and are telling it before our eyes, but people want to see a contrast in the final.”
Serena holds the French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open crowns, having beaten Venus in all three finals in 2002.
Shriver, a U.S. Open runner-up at the age of 16 in 1978, said the key to Clijsters’s success was her maturity and the balance with which she leads her life.
“For someone so young, I think Clijsters balances her life really well. She is a very outgoing, very friendly, nice person away from her matches and yet on the court, she has enough spark and grit and determination to potentially get to number one in the world.
“It’s very rare to find somebody in this day and age who combines the compassionate, friendly, approachable off-court demeanour with the toughness and the determination that she has on court.
“Needless to say, she is one of my favourite players on the tour. Very few of the top players let you in even for a second in their life and not that it’s in a big way, but she is just a person who touches you in a nice way.
“She has this presence. You tend to know when Kim’s in the room, she has this charisma. She has got a fun side, she likes a laugh and to have a good time and yet she knows when that line’s drawn and when she goes out on court, she is all business. I have never seen a young player be able to switch on and off as well.”