FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – If she was a football team, she would be the 49ers of the 1980s and in basketball, she would be the Celtics of the 1960s.
If she was a baseball team, she would be the Yankees of the 1950s.
But Kim Clijsters is a tennis player, and a good one, especially on the hard courts in Flushing Meadows, the surface she loves the most. And after tonight, she became a dynasty with her third US Open with a dismantling of Vera Zvonareva, 6-2 6-1, in the shortest Women’s Final since they started keeping time back in 1980 and the most lopsided final since 1976, when Chris Everett took out Evonne Goolagong, 6-3 6-0 in Forest Hills.
The match was so lopsided that the capacity crowd was trying to egg on Zvonareva just to get their money’s worth.
But the world’s favorite working mom would have none of that as she wanted to get revenge of her Quarterfinal loss at Wimbledon by Zvonareva keeping her shutout of the other three majors.
“I knew getting into the match which things were that I didn’t do well in the matches I lost,” Clijsters said. “Obviously the one at Wimbledon was, to me one of the most disappointing losses that I’ve dealt with so far in my career.”
The reason why Clijsters was so disappointed back in July was that Wimbledon was her chance to make everyone believe she was more than just a hard court specialist. Winning the US Open every year is nice and the $2.2 million payday she received will pay for young Jada’s college tuition, but to be considered one of the greats, she needs to claim the crown elsewhere, be it in Melbourne, Paris, or London.
“I mean, they all motivate you in a different way, obviously,” she said. “Tactic‑wise you always have to adjust a little bit to each and every single one of them.
“But I think the one where I’ve felt I can do better than I have is obviously at the Australian Open. Similar surface. They’ve gone away from I think the Rebound Ace in the last couple years. So I’ve always enjoyed playing there. That’s obviously a Grand Slam I want to do well. I want to do well in all of them, of course.
“But, um, again, you have the two European Grand Slams, which, you know, obviously Wimbledon is the one where, you know, I’m close to because I have the connection with my dad there because he enjoyed it there. I always want to do well there, as well.
“The French Open, yeah, feels like playing in Belgium because we have so many Belgian people supporting us. We have the history of a lot of past Belgians who have won there. They all have a different impact on the way you feel and a positive impact, and I think that’s something I want to use when I go back there next year.”
It’s funny, though, Clijsters also has a connection with each of the Grand Slams. Australia adopted her calling the Belgian “Aussie Kim” because of her engagement to Lleyton Hewitt. Wimbledon and Roland Garros love her because she is a Belgian and almost an adoptive daughter.
And she is loved here in New York, because she is a part time New Jersey resident, as her husband Brian Lynch hails from the Garden State.
Yet, she’s only found championships by the Unisphere, because the hard courts excel her skills raising her record to 21-0 in her last three Opens.
“The surface has always been one of my favorite surfaces to play on,” Clijsters said. “I also like the blue courts, which, you know, make it a lot easier for me to see on.
“But I’ve always ‑‑ not just here in New York, but I’ve always had a very good run on the American hard courts, even when I was younger, you know, the whole US Open Series, Stanford, San Diego, LA, those kind of tournaments.
“I’ve always had a pretty good record going there. I have a natural instinct of just adapting really well to, you know, the hard courts, which doesn’t come that easily for me when I go on different surfaces.”
Now, though, the 27 year-old needs to raise her game if she wants to be considered one of the greats. In the next year, Clijsters needs to she can win one of the other three Grand Slams. She said she wants to play through the Olympics in 2012, but after that it’s up in the air. Jada will be going to school and her priorities will change.
The clock is ticking and as with all dynasties they will come to an end someday.