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Clijsters claims, and deserves, No. 1

By Matthew Cronin
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http://www.*******************/tr.net_photos_art/clijsters_fm_wb_03_no1.jpg
Photo: Fred Mullane/Camerawork USA, Inc.
Design: Ron Cioffi/*******************
FROM THE JP MORGAN CHASE OPEN IN LA – During a heat break in between the second and third set of her 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 victory over second-seed Lindsay Davenport in the final here Sunday, the feeling around the Home Depot Center was that Kim Clijsters might not able to raise the level of game and become the first player from her tiny nation to grab the No. 1 ranking.

But Clijsters proved her doubters wrong and came off her chair like a hellion, devastating Davenport until her sore foot began throbbing with pain. For the first time this year, Clijsters won a huge match when the pressure was immense and proved to the world that she is a deserving No. 1.

Had she not won this contest and had the top ranking handed to her by default next week in Toronto, there would be few reasons to celebrate. But now Clijsters can say that she won a match with No. 1 ranking on her racket and for a 20-year-old with dreams of winning a Grand Slams, that is a gigantic feat.

"It’s a huge accomplishment," Davenport said. "Now everyone is going to start asking her when she’s going to win a Grand Slam. But she has the goods to do it. She has a lot of game and hasn’t even hit her peak yet."

The 20-year-old Clijsters became the first player to attain the top spot without winning a Grand Slam title since the WTA Tour introduced the ranking system in 1975, but it didn’t ruin her celebration. She’s reached the semis or better in all 14 tournaments she played this year. The last player to do so was former No. 1 Martina Hingis in 1997. That’s very good company.

"I always looked up to No. 1s Steffi Graf and Monica Seles and, to be in the position now even though they held the ranking for so much longer, is incredible," said Clijsters, who took over the top spot from the injured Serena. "When they said it on court, it gave me goose bumps."

After cutting cake and handing out glasses of champagne to the media, signing a ton of autographs and having her picture taken with her adoring fans, Clijsters strode happily back to the locker room. She was more than jovial, jokingly threatening to spray a reporter with champagne. The feeling of being the sport’s top player was beginning to sink in and she couldn’t stop smiling.

"It makes you feel incredible with all these people around, you feel it more. It’s amazing," she said.

MUST GET THE SLAM IN NY
Clijsters next step is obvious: She has to win a Slam to legitimize her ranking. Like it or not, she’s THE favorite to win the US Open. Now all she needs to do is step up to the plate and show off the incredible level she’s displayed much of the past three weeks when it counts in New York.

"It motivates me very much," Clijsters said. "The US Open will be tough because, without Serena playing, there will be a lot players who think they have a bigger chance to win. But I like the challenge."

If Venus makes it back for the Open, she’ll be Clijsters main contender along with third-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne, who said last week that her two of her main goals are to win the Open and become No. 1.

Clijsters and Henin-Hardenne were involved in a somewhat nasty dispute after Henin-Hardenne beat her in three sets in the final of the Acura Classic last week. Clijsters accused her of using an injury time-out to treat a blister as a mental break in order to get herself back in the match. Henin-Hardenne has beaten Clijsters three of the last four times they have played, including in the Roland Garros final. Clijsters badly wants another shot at her.

"For sure she’s a main challenger but there are other players who would like to get there, too," Clijsters said. "If I’m going to challenge her, it’s going to be in a semis or final and I have to get there first. But if I play her, I’m definitely looking forward to revenge."

Those are strong words from pleasant Clijsters, but she’s a much more mentally fit player than she was last year. She knows that if she’s going to achieve her goals, she can’t back down. She’s remarkably resilient player and can shrug off significant losses like few players in the game. She keeps working and keeps ringing up W’s.

"I’ve always been very positive even, when I lose," she said. "You can’t always win. I don’t see myself getting disappointed when I’ve lost one match at a Grand Slam and I’ve won five or six. If you’re competitive, the first thing you want to do is to train hard again and get fitter and better."

That she has. Now the only question that remains is if she’s improved enough over the last month to win a Slam title when she’s expected to. We’ll know the answer to that in four weeks time when women’s finalists walk on court for the primetime US Open final
 

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komaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan KIM!

i really do hope she wins the US Open.
 

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Now it´s time, Kim: To be or not to be!!
 

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Hello all you kim detractors. You can stuff your amateur analysis of who "deserves" to be No 1. I'm setting my store by Martina Navratilova, whos been there, done it, bought the tshirt, wore it, took it off and now is putting it back on again. Here's what she's got to say:-

Before Clijsters took over the top ranking, Navratilova said, “If she becomes No. 1, she’ll definitely deserve it because she had the best year overall. She is very consistent and has won a whole bunch of tournaments, so she’s earned it.”

Big congrats to Kim :drink:
 

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fifiricci said:
Hello all you kim detractors. You can stuff your amateur analysis of who "deserves" to be No 1. I'm setting my store by Martina Navratilova, whos been there, done it, bought the tshirt, wore it, took it off and now is putting it back on again. Here's what she's got to say:-

Before Clijsters took over the top ranking, Navratilova said, “If she becomes No. 1, she’ll definitely deserve it because she had the best year overall. She is very consistent and has won a whole bunch of tournaments, so she’s earned it.”

Big congrats to Kim :drink:
How can she have had the best year overall, when there are players who have won nearly as much titles as her but BIGGER titles than she does?! Serena and Justine both can claim to be having a much stronger year than Kim.
 

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bandabou said:
How can she have had the best year overall, when there are players who have won nearly as much titles as her but BIGGER titles than she does?! Serena and Justine both can claim to be having a much stronger year than Kim.
You are such an enormous bigot there is no point arguing with you while u got those big blinkers on. :lol:
 

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fifiricci said:
You are such an enormous bigot there is no point arguing with you while u got those big blinkers on. :lol:
No, my friend! That´s called being realistic.
 

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bandabou said:
No, my friend! That´s called being realistic.
Erm no, its about you ignoring the facts and reality because your head is stuck so far up your arse.
 

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fifiricci said:
Erm no, its about you ignoring the facts and reality because your head is stuck so far up your arse.
wow, wow!! Was there are real need to say that?! If you think Kim´s the best player...fine! I don´t.....Serena and Justine are having better seasons than her in my book. Period!! Kim hasn´t beaten Serena this year. Justine has won almost their finals this year and the one she lost...was by withdrawal whilst leading!! Serena and Justine are the only players to win a slam this year....so how can Kim be the best?!

Kim´s nothing more but a Martina Hingis-clone! Peace!!
 

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bandabou said:
How can she have had the best year overall, when there are players who have won nearly as much titles as her but BIGGER titles than she does?! Serena and Justine both can claim to be having a much stronger year than Kim.
keyword is 'overall', not one moment in time, not one tournament, but overall.
 

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Beggin' Beguine said:
keyword is 'overall', not one moment in time, not one tournament, but overall.
Are the slams played at the same moment?! :confused: :lol:
 

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I agree with that assessment. The WTA Tour is a tour with a succession of tournaments. The player who wins the most tournaments (Kim with 6!) is entitled to say she has the best overall results.
 

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It's nice to see the words 'nsty dispute', and have neither of the Williams sisters involved. If it means a real break from all the negativity, Kim and Justine can have #1 and #2, just so V & S get the Slams.
 

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bandabou said:
Kim´s nothing more but a Martina Hingis-clone! Peace!!
That's a compliment you know...
 

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Volcana said:
It's nice to see the words 'nsty dispute', and have neither of the Williams sisters involved. If it means a real break from all the negativity, Kim and Justine can have #1 and #2, just so V & S get the Slams.
Word! :worship:
 

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Volcana said:
It's nice to see the words 'nsty dispute', and have neither of the Williams sisters involved. If it means a real break from all the negativity, Kim and Justine can have #1 and #2, just so V & S get the Slams.
Volcana, the negativity lately is coming from the fans of what players? Not Jennifer or Lindsay fans, believe me.
 

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There's only one numero uno and it's Serena - and she'll remain number one until Kim starts beating her. Simple as that. She has every right to be number one on the computer, but the computer and the court are two completely different things.
 
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