Belgian Clijsters close to NO.1 Spot
Belgian Clijsters close to NO.1 Spot
Belgian's victory in Bank of the West keeps pressure on Serena Williams' world ranking in women's tennis
By Rose Paton
Special to WTAFANS.COM
Kim Clijsters may not be able to crack Serena Williams hold on the top spot among women's tennis players in the world but she's certainly playing like a No. 1.
Clijsters, ranked second in the world, defeated 7th-ranked Jennifer Capriati, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, on Sunday to capture the Bank of the West Classic singles title at Stanford's Taube Tennis Center.
It was Clijsters’ second straight victory over Capriati in their five career meetings. Four of those five matches have gone the three-set distance, including the 2001 Roland Garros final, which Capriati won 12-10 in the decisive set.
"You don't really start thinking how long you're going to play," Clijsters said. "It's true, in the past we've had so many long matches and always long rallies. It's very satisfying to win matches like this, not only the mental part but physically."
Clijsters, who also won the event in 2001, captured her fifth title of the season while Capriati is still looking for her first title since the 2002 Australian Open.
Lisa Raymond and Cara Black won the doubles title with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 victory over Yoon Jeong Cho and Francesca Shiavone.
Clijsters, still looking for her first Grand Slam title after losing in the finals of the French Open to fellow Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne, outlasted Capriati by running down a lot of balls and winning several long rallies.
"I felt like even the first set I had so many chances," said Clijsters. "A few times it was love-40 on her serve games and I took it too easy and wasn't aggressive enough. She's been coming to the net a little bit more and volleying well and that's something that surprised me."
Capriati has been working on her net game in an effort to regain her position as the top player. She was ranked first for 17 weeks in the fall of 2001.
Clijsters and Capriati went three sets for the fourth time in five career meetings.
"You don't really start thinking how long you're going to play," said Clijsters, who has beaten Capriati twice this season. "In the past we've had so many long matches, it's satisfying to win matches like this."
Capriati has been battling a right shoulder injury through the tournament, and it seemed to affect her more during the title match. She claims it's not a problem and ices the shoulder as a precautionary measure.
"I think I played aggressively and came to the net a few times," said Capriati. "I wanted to go to the net and move her around. I definitely had my chances to close out the match. I missed some chances at the momentum faded a bit."
The long rallies in the hot weather affected both players though Clijsters seemed to handle it better.
"I was struggling with the heat," she said. "I just tried to keep the rallies going and not make those easy mistakes. In the third set it was a good thing to have that lead. It gave me adrenaline and more of a fighting spirit."
Clijsters carries a well-earned reputation as being one of the best-conditioned players on the WTA Tour and she wore Capriati down over the course of the final two sets.
"I just got a little bit more tired than she did," Capriati said. "I guess I get a feel for what it would be like for me to play myself."
Clijsters, Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport have each won the Bank of the West twice since it moved to Stanford in 1997. Martina Hingis won the first title to be contested on the campus.
Martina Navratilova has won the most titles (6) since the event's inception in 1971. Chris Evert and Billie Jean King have each won three titles.