Bryans Get First Ever Sportsmanship Award

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., September 7, 2012 — The USTA today announced that Bob and Mike Bryan have received the first-ever “US Open Sportsmanship Award” presented to the male and female professional tennis players who best demonstrate excellence in sportsmanship throughout the Emirates Airline US Open Series and the US Open. The award was presented to the Bryan brothers at the US Open by USTA Chairman of the Board and President Jon Vegosen and Sportsmanship Selection Committee Chairman Todd Martin.

“Bob and Mike are both great champions and gracious competitors, making them the perfect choice to receive the US Open Sportsmanship Award,” said Vegosen. “Through all of their accomplishments on the court, Bob and Mike have exuded the class and integrity that exemplify what makes tennis such a great sport. Their success continues to set a perfect example for future generations.”

Bob and Mike Bryan won the 2012 US Open men’s doubles title to break the Open Era record for the most Grand Slam team titles with their 12th major trophy. The Bryans passed Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde in the Open Era and tied John Newcombe and Tony Roche for the all-time record. The Bryans also won the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in Toronto this summer and reached the semifinals of the Series event in Cincinnati. Off the court, Esurance, the official car insurance sponsor of the US Open, teamed up with the Bryan brothers and USTA Serves this summer to support two tennis programs benefiting at-risk youth.

Under Vegosen’s leadership, the USTA started a Sportsmanship Committee in 2011. Its charge is to “educate and inspire youngsters and their parents to develop and exhibit a high degree of sportsmanship and an attitude of fair play and mutual respect on and off the tennis court. Underlying the charge is the ethical imperative that fairness is more important than winning.”

Eligibility requirements for winners include participating in at least two Series tournaments, as well as the 2012 US Open. In addition to a handsome trophy, each US Open Sportsmanship Award winner receives a $5,000 donation to the charity of his or her choice. Samantha Stosur received the women’s US Open Sportsmanship Award.

Azarenka Comes Out At The Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – She dances, she sings, and heck she can hit the ball too.

This is a different Victoria Azarenka we are used to seeing. In the past, she could be testy, yelling at the umpires, linespersons and even ballboys and ball girls.

But now, she is having fun.

All thanks to a sitdown with her grandmother Nina.

“I guess it’s just the mentality change, you know, the approach change,” Azarenka said. “I just know how to prepare myself to be in that state of mind.  It’s never always the same.  Sometimes to come up with that fire it takes a little bit more energy out of me or, you know, a little bit of adaptation, something that I have to bring myself.

“But, yeah, the approach is there.  I enjoy playing on the court.  It’s always there.”

Quietly, we have started to see it the last two weeks. Even though she’s the No. 1 seed, the 23 year-old has been overshadowed by the more household names on the tour.

But after her thrilling 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Maria Sharapova in the Semifinals, everyone is starting to know her now.

And she is having the time of her life.

“It’s sometimes it’s not as fun,” she said with a laugh.  “Especially in that first set today it wasn’t that fun. But I try to enjoy my moment.  I feel like I don’t want it to end.  I’m living this great run, you know, this great opportunities that coming at me, that I just want to continue and enjoy that ride.

“When I’m on the court, I feel like I’m in paradise.  I’m in that most comfortable place I can be.  Why not enjoy it?”

The Belarusian has made a name for herself this year. In the semifinals once in a Grand Slam before 2012, she is now on the cusp to win her second major of the year after winning the Australian earlier this season.

But now, she is facing maybe her toughest competition: Serena Williams.

“Well, first of all, if you look at our record it says it all,” Azarenka, who is 1-9 careerwise against Serena, said. “I mean, I haven’t won in any last meetings, so I definitely need to find something to surprise her tomorrow, because she’s in a great form, you know, feeling really confident right now.

“She has everything on her side.”

And that includes the crowd, who will support the American every day of the week. Azarenka, though isn’t going to be wearing Bobby Bonilla style earplug to drown out the noise.

“I will not really use ear plugs, but I definitely I would be surprised if it would be the other way, so I kind of know that already,” she said. “It’s not the first time for me to kind of face that.  It’s definitely gonna be the first time being in the US Open, but, you know, there is a lot of things that been for the first time for me in this year.  I just need to adjust and try to be, you know, who I am on the court.”

But to win the championship or even make it a game, what does she have to do?

“Well, I have to, you know, try to return well, definitely,” she said smiling.  “And serve.  Because, well, with Serena it’s not really the long rallies.  It’s all about, you know, who grabs the first opportunity, who is more brave to, you know, step it up right from the beginning.”

And if she does it, she will have a puncher’s chance against Serena. But whatever happens, the No. 1 seed will have fun with it.

At least that’s what her grandmother told her to do.

 

 

Federer Match A Shocker

It almost seemed like an imposter was playing at the Open under the name of Roger Federer last night.

Fedrer lost in the quarter-finals to Czech Tomas Berdych 7-6,6-4,3-6,6-3, making his earliest exit at the Open since 2003.

Federer curiously won the opening toss and chose to receive. Things got worse from there.

Berdych hit winners from every angle on the court, seemingly leaving Federer defenseless. Berdych also had 14 aces.

Federer and the No. 6 seed had split their last 6 matches.

Federer had 40 unforced errors to only 21 by Berdych. Many of the unforced errors were forced by Berdych.

The crowd, very vocal earlier in the day when Andy Roddick played and lost his last competitive match seemed to sit on its hands during most of the match in stunned silence.

Berdych, never a winner in a Grand Slam will play Andy Murray on Saturday in the semis.

Sara Errani Takes No. 1 Ranking in Doubles

NEW YORK, NY, USA – The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced today that Italy’s Sara Errani will rise to the World No.1 doubles ranking on Monday, September 10. Errani replaces co-No.1s Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond in the top spot, and becomes only the second Italian to hold the honor, after Flavia Pennetta, who was ranked No.1 for 18 weeks in 2011. Errani’s partner, fellow Italian Roberta Vinci, is also set to achieve a career-high doubles ranking of No.2.

 

“I would like to congratulate Sara on becoming the WTA’s World No.1 doubles player,” said Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman and CEO. “Sara has had an amazing year in singles and doubles, reaching both finals at Roland Garros and winning 11 titles. Sara, along with her partner Roberta, achieved a historic feat at Roland Garros by becoming the first all-Italian team to win a Grand Slam doubles title. Their hard work and determination has paid off and is earning them fans around the world.”

 

“Becoming WTA No.1 in doubles is a dream come true,” said Errani. “It’s what you play for! We’ve won a lot of titles this year and to share such success with a friend like Roberta is amazing. Playing a lot of matches in both singles and doubles has been good for my confidence.”

 

Errani, and her regular doubles partner, countrywoman Vinci, have had an outstanding year, winning seven doubles titles, highlighted by becoming the first all-Italian pair to win a Grand Slam doubles title at Roland Garros. Between April and June the duo won five consecutive titles – Barcelona Ladies Open, Mutua Madrid Open, Internazionali BNL d’Italia (Rome), Roland Garros and UNICEF Open (‘s-Hertogenbosch) – and their 25-match win streak was the longest by a team since 1994, when Gigi Fernández and Natasha Zvereva won 28 straight. The pair currently leads the Race to the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul doubles standings.

 

Errani’s quarterfinal appearance at the Generali Ladies Linz with Alberta Brianti last year gives her a slight ranking advantage over Vinci, who will also rise to a new career-high next week, at No.2.

 

At 25 years old, Errani is enjoying a career year in 2012. In addition to her doubles accomplishments she reached her first Grand Slam singles final at Roland Garros (l. Sharapova), breaking into the singles Top 10. She has also won four singles titles – at Abierto Mexicano TELCEL (Acapulco), Barcelona Ladies Open, Budapest Grand Prix and XXV Italiacom Open (Palermo).

 

During the course of her career, Errani has won six singles and 15 doubles titles. In addition, she has represented Italy in Fed Cup competition for five consecutive years (including championship runs in 2009 and 2010), and competed in two Olympic Games.

WTA WORLD NO.1 DOUBLES PLAYERS

PLAYER WEEKS AT No.1 DATE REACHED No.1
Martina Navratilova (USA)

237

September 10, 1984
Liezel Huber (USA)

199

November 12, 2007
Cara Black (ZIM)

163

October 17, 2005
Lisa Raymond (USA)

137

June 12, 2000
Natasha Zvereva (BLR)

124

October 7, 1991
Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (ESP)

111

October 19, 1992
Paola Suarez (ARG)

87

September 9, 2002
Gigi Fernandez (USA)

80

March 4, 1991
Helena Sukova (CZE)

68

February 5, 1990
Jana Novotna (CZE)

67

August 27, 1990
Virginia Ruano Pascual (ESP)

65

September 8, 2003
Samantha Stosur (AUS)

61

February 6,2006
Pam Shriver (USA)

48

March 18, 1985
Ai Sugiyama (JPN)

45

October 23, 2000
Martina Hingis (SUI)

35

June 8, 1998
Lindsay Davenport (USA)

32

October 20, 1997
Gisela Dulko (ARG)

24

November 1, 2010
Flavia Pennetta (ITA)

18

February 28, 2011
Julie Halard-Decugis (FRA)

14

September 11, 2000
Anna Kournikova (RUS)

10

November 22, 1999
Kveta Peschke (CZE)

10

July 4, 2011
Katarina Srebotnik (SLO)

10

July 4, 2011
Serena Williams (USA)

8

June 7, 2010
Venus Williams (USA)

8

June 7, 2010
Corina Morariu (USA)

7

April 3, 2010
Kim Clijsters (BEL)

4

August 4, 2003
Larisa Neiland (LAT)

4

January 27, 1992
Rennae Stubbs(AUS)

3

August 21, 2000
Sara Errani (ITA)

1*

September 10, 2012

*Includes week September 10, 2012

Martina Hingis added to lineup for WTT Finals Weekend in Charleston, S.C.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (August 29, 2012) — Martina Hingis, the 2012 WTT Female MVP, has been added to the lineup of tennis stars for the WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO, Sept. 14-16, at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, S.C.

Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam singles champion, confirmed to League officials today that she will be in Charleston to lead her New York Sportimes team for the WTT Finals Weekend.  Hingis, who finished first in WTT women’s singles during the regular season, is expected to face off against Venus Williams in women’s singles during the Eastern Conference championship showdown on Sept. 15 between long-time rivals, the New York Sportimes and Williams’ undefeated Washington Kastles.  Hingis will be joined by Hall of Famer John McEnroe, Jesse Witten, Robert Kendrick, and Ashley Harkleroad for the Sportimes.  Chuck Adams is the coach of the Sportimes.

This will be a rematch of the July 21 contest that featured Williams defeating Hingis to rally the Kastles from six games back in the final set to give Washington a Supertiebreaker win over the Sportimes and keep their win streak intact.

The Western Conference title will be decided on Sept. 14 when the six-time champion Sacramento Capitals battle the Orange County Breakers.  The Breakers will be without the services of WTT veteran Lindsay Davenport who is out of the WTT Finals Weekend with a torn ligament in her left wrist.  Davenport, who is sporting a cast for the next several weeks, tripped at home and injured her wrist.  She will be replaced in the Breakers lineup by her teammate and former collegiate standout Jana Juricova.  Juricova, who played nine matches for Orange County during the regular season, won the 2011 NCAA singles championship while playing for UC-Berkeley and was also named ITA National Player of the Year in 2011.  Trevor Kronemann is the Breakers coach.

The lineup for the Kastles will be Williams, who last month won the Olympic gold medal in doubles with her sister Serena Williams, along with 2012 WTT Male MVP Bobby Reynolds, Leander Paes, Anastasia Rodionova and Arina Rodionova.  Paes is considered one of the sports’ greatest doubles champions, with 50 titles and having completed the career doubles Grand Slam earlier this year with a victory at the Australian Open.

The Kastles are looking to win their second consecutive WTT title and continue their 30-match win streak.  After capturing the 2011 title in Charleston with a 16-0 record, the Kastles won all 14 of their 2012 regular season matches.  The Kastles have not lost a WTT match since July 22, 2010, which gives them the second longest U.S. pro sports team win streak in history with 30 consecutive wins.  The longest U.S. pro sports team win streak is 33 games, held by the NBA’s 1971-72 Lakers.   2012 WTT Coach of the Year Murphy Jensen is at the helm of the Kastles.

The best of the West face off on Friday, Sept. 14, at 6:30 p.m. EDT, when the Orange County Breakers take on the Sacramento Capitals in the Western Conference Championship.   The Breakers are the top seed in the West and their lineup is WTT Male Rookie of the Year John-Patrick Smith, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Jana Juricova and Travis Parrott.  Groenefeld and Parrott are both mixed doubles Grand Slam champions.  Groenefeld teamed with Sacramento’s Mark Knowles to win the 2009 Wimbledon mixed doubles title, while Parrott and Carly Gullickson of the Boston Lobsters won the 2009 US Open mixed championship.

South African Kevin Anderson, currently ranked No. 34 in the world in singles, leads the Sacramento squad that also includes former doubles world No. 1 Mark Knowles, and young Americans Yasmin Schnack and Asia Muhammad.  Wayne Bryan, father of Olympic gold medalists Bob and Mike Bryan, is the longtime coach of the Sacramento Capitals.

The Conference Champions advance to the WTT Finals on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 3:30 p.m. EDT with the winner taking home the King Trophy, named after WTT co-founder Billie Jean King.

Ticket specials for the WTT Finals Weekend are available through the Family Circle Tennis Center box office.  Fans who purchase Terrace Level tickets for Friday and Saturday through the FCTC Box Office will receive a free ticket for Sunday’s Championship Final.  A full weekend Terrace Level pass is $77.00.  Full weekend Box Seat passes are available for $160.50.  Single session tickets are $38.50 for Terrace Level and $53.50 for Box Seats.  All fees are included in ticket prices.  For tickets, travel packages or more information, please contact the Box Office at 1-800-677-2293 or visit www.familycirclecup.com.

For more information on the WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO, visit www.WTT.com/Finals.

WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO – Schedule

Western Conference Championship –#2 Sacramento Capitals vs. #1 ORANGE COUNTY BREAKERS - Friday, September 14 – 6:30 PM EDT

Eastern Conference Championship –  #2 New York Sportimes vs. #1 WASHINGTON KASTLES - Saturday, September 15 – 6:30 PM EDT

WTT Finals – #2 Western Conference Champion vs. #1 EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION - Sunday, September 16 – 3:30 PM EDT

Team Rosters(subject to change):

NEW YORK SPORTIMES

Ashley Harkleroad (USA)

Martina Hingis (SUI)

Robert Kendrick (USA)

John McEnroe (USA)

Jesse Witten (USA)

Coach: Chuck Adams

WASHINGTON KASTLES

Leander Paes (IND)

Anastasia Rodionova (AUS)

Arina Rodionova (AUS)

Bobby Reynolds (USA)

Venus Williams (USA)

Coach: Murphy Jensen

ORANGE COUNTY BREAKERS

Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER)

Jana Juricova (SVK)

Travis Parrott (USA)

John-Patrick Smith (AUS)

Coach: Trevor Kronemann

SACRAMENTO CAPITALS

Kevin Anderson (RSA)

Mark Knowles (BAH)

Asia Muhammad (USA)

Yasmin Schnack (USA)

Coach: Wayne Bryan

About WTT Pro League presented by GEICO: 

The World Team Tennis (WTT) Pro League presented by GEICO showcases the best in professional team tennis with the innovative coed team format co-founded by Billie Jean King in the 1970s.  The WTT Pro League has featured virtually every major champion of the Open era over the League’s past 37 seasons.  The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is a minority owner and promotional partner of World TeamTennis.   WTT and the USTA are teaming up on number of initiatives, including development of the youth market through junior team tennis programs.  For more information on the WTT Pro League, visit www.WTT.com.

Maria Opens Up

FLUSHING MEADOWS – Maria Sharapova is back to being the front on star of tennis. She is crushing her opponents, while acting like the starlet we all know and love.

After she dispatched Mallory Burdette today – in a match where she thought she would be booed – the 25 year-old started to reflect on her career with the up and comers, like Laura Robson and Sloane Stephens making names for themselves, while Kim Clijsters is retiring to motherhood.

“Well, I’ll tell you, when I was 18 or 19, if someone told me I was going to be playing at 25, which was seven years from then, I’d be like, Stop, this is ridiculous.  You’re crazy,” she said.  “But here I am at 25 years old.  Although I didn’t play for nine, ten months in my career, I’m 25, and I feel like I have so many more years left.  I still wake up in the morning and feel like I can be better and motivated.  I have energy and I’m healthy.”

And she has a legit chance to win her second US Open and start on a second career slam, after winning the French Open this year to gain her first. After being injured with a bad shoulder, Sharapova looked like a has been in recent years, but the strength and skill has returned.

That makes for interesting topics from the mercurial Russian, who at times can seem somewhat arrogant. But that’s her nature and she doesn’t mean to be mean.

In fact she had some kind words to say about her competitors and because of her experience; Sharapova offers some unique insight about each of them.

First there’s Robson , who Sharapova said she knew for years.

“Laura was someone who was obviously throughout the years ‑ I think she won junior Wimbledon, and she’s someone that I think a lot of people expected to do well at an early age,” Sharapova said. “I mean, this is definitely her breakthrough tournament, her breakthrough Grand Slam where she’s been playing extremely well.

“I’ve practiced with her a few times.  Played her at the Olympics and last year at Wimbledon.  She has a big game, and also a lefty, which adds to her strength.”

And then there is Stephens, the young American who many have been comparing to the next coming of Venus Williams. Stephens is the daughter of former NFL running back John Stephens who played for the New England Patriots.

“I played against her in Miami,” Sharapova said.   “I don’t remember the score, but she’s a great athlete.  Moves so well.  I watched a little bit of her match yesterday.  She’s a great fighter and, you know, was able to come back from that match.

“Obviously that’s the newer generation, and I’m somewhere in the middle there. “

Sharapova also had kind words to say about Clijsters, who was sent home by Robson on Wednesday and into retirement.

“I was very fortunate to play a lot of matches against Kim and follow her career,” she said.   “I mean, she was such a great athlete, a great competitor.  We always had really tough battles against each other. It was amazing to see her career unfold.  The way she came back after, you know, becoming a mom and having that dedication and, you know, that fire again, it was pretty incredible.

“It showed how much she loved the sport and how much passion she had for it.”

With all of this going on – and let’s not forget Andy Roddick – it’s easy to forget Sharapova, but she easily won her first three matches, especially today against Burdette, 6-1 6-1.

Seeded No. 3, Sharapova is feeling pretty good about herself.

“I didn’t know too much going into this event because I hadn’t played on hard in a few months,” Sharapova said.   “I think that made me extra focused, and I wanted to really get going from the beginning and be aggressive.

“Yeah, took a little bit of a break after Wimbledon and went home.  I think I kind of recharged a little bit.  Certainly feel a lot more energy than I did maybe after the French.”

She’s going to be tough and someone to watch out for next week.

A New Lease on Life For Blake

FLUSHING MEADOWS – James Blake knows the time was coming and now, he is hearing it.

He’s become the old man of the tournament at the tender age of 32.

And those young ones are letting him hear about, every single time he plays.

“I have been that way for a while,” Blake said after he sent Lucas Lacko packing in four sets, 7-5 6-2 3-6 6-3 for his first Grand Slam win of the year.  “The thing is I knew I was going to get them, because when I was a kid starting out around here I dished them out.  So I knew they would come back to haunt me.

“I remember I used to make fun of Todd Martin.  Todd Martin was one of my key guys I would get.  I made fun of him for taking so long to warm up, for his gray hair, for all that kind of stuff, for just in general being old.

“He said, Just wait, just wait.  You will be, too.  Now I’m getting it from everyone.  I deserve it, because if I dish it out, I’ve got to be able to take it.  I’m getting the old jokes, the grandpa jokes, and I’m okay with that.”

Even with his advanced ago, grandpa…err.. Blake, may have a chance of advancing pretty far this Open. His knee is healed and he says he is the healthiest he has been this decade.

“My knee was giving me problems for a while and I didn’t bring it up a lot,” he said.  “I didn’t want to talk about it because it was something that would nag at me.  Then it would go, I could be okay for half a match, and then it starts getting worse.  Then I know the next day is going to be terrible.

“It just eventually got to a point where I couldn’t even make it through a match and it got worse and worse.  Eventually the only option was surgery. It was a while, but I kind of battled with that and it feels good.”

And now he is ready for the 2012 Open. Blake is still obviously a long shot. He is a long way from being No. 4 in the world. But this is the tournament that pumps him up. Being from Yonkers, Blake considers this his hometown tournament and tries to play his best tennis at Flushing Meadows.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said.  “You know, every time I come back here it’s still sort of the goosebumps walking out on Louis Armstrong or Arthur Ashe.  I’m excited, and I get a lot of ticket requests.  I get to see my fans and friends having a good time.  That definitely keeps my spirits up, keeps my head up throughout the whole match.

“You know, I can’t believe that it’s been I think 12 years I have been playing here just about every year.  You know, it still doesn’t feel normal.  It’s still an incredible feeling to be here and to be doing what I dreamed of as a kid.”

He has a new sponsor in Travis Matthew and a new outlook on life with a young daughter. He looks thinker and ready, something the Slovak Lacko found out today.

But still, it’s a long shot and for Blake to make any kind of noise, he needs to take it the proverbial one match at a time.

“Well, you know, for me, I think I need to get there,” he said. “I need to worry about one match at a time.  I can’t worry about quarters or semis or finals right now.

“I’m still kind of scratching to get through these matches and get my confidence back and feel like I’m ready to compete.  I don’t think that will change if I’m playing someone that’s 1, 2, or 3 in the world.

“I have been fortunate enough.  I am an elder statesman.  I have been around and have won a lot of matches.  I have beaten guys 1 in the world, I’ve beaten guys that are top 3, top 4, top 5 plenty of times.  There is no reason for me to go out there and play one of those guys and be scared.

“I think it will take an unbelievable effort.  I will have to play my best tennis.”

Maybe he will endure a few more grandpa jokes over the next few weeks.

 

 

McHale’s Navy Attacks In Full Force

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Two years ago, people started to “Believe” in Melanie Oudin and her Cinderella run.

This year the New York crowd may be ready to board McHale’s Navy.

Nineteen year-old Christina McHale, stormed to the third round with a straight set win over No. 8 seed 7-6 (2) 6-2 to become the darling of this year’s open.

“I knew that like I had to try,” the New Jersey resident said.  “I couldn’t play like any sloppy games.  I had to try and compete really hard in the second set because I knew she was going to try even harder, too, to get the second set because she lost the first.

“When I went from 3‑Love to 3‑2, I was like, C’mon, Christina, don’t let it get back to 3‑All.  That game was a big game to get it to 4‑2.”

McHale isn’t any stranger to upsets. She slayed World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in Cincinnati last month in the first round and then proceeded to beat Aleksandra Wozniak in the first round.

This win may have topped it off for the young American.

“I think they’re different wins.  I had never really, at the Grand Slams, made it past the second round,” she said.  “Yeah, that was a good win for me, too, but I think to have it happen here at the Grand Slam is exciting for me.”

Two years ago, during Oudin-mania McHale quietly win her first round match against Polona Hercog but lost to Maria Sharapova. Now, though, she seems poised to take on the bigger names in the sport on her rise to the top.

Yet, she is trying to not to get too tied up in the hype and become a long term disappointment like Oudin.

“I try not to think about that too much,” she said.  “I mean, when I go out there every time on the court, I’m going to try my best, try to compete really hard.”

Being from New Jersey means this is her hometown match. For years as a teenager she came to Flushing as a fan to watch the greats competed for the title.

Now she is getting the same treatment she gave to her heroes.

“Someone asked me this the other day,” she said.  “I don’t remember a particular match.  I just remember we’d all get here when the gates opened and we’d literally spend the whole day here, all of our friends, running from court to court, trying to get an autograph, a picture.

“It was so much fun for us.”

Almost as fun as winning the second round of the Open and if she beats the 25th seed Maria Kirilenko in the third round, then McHale’s Navy may be in full force.

All Aboard!

Aussie Kim Gets Aussie Win

She did it.

Kim Clijsters goal of winning a Grand Slam outside of the US Open came to fruition with a three set win over Na Li, 3-6 6-3 6-3.

“Yeah, [the Grand Slam wins are] all emotional,” Clijsters said. “Obviously, you know, I think what overwhelms me is that it’s so intense up until, you know, that last shot, and then all of a sudden it’s finished. Then it’s just like a big relief.

“Yeah, you know, the disbelief maybe a little bit too it’s over and that I was able to turn it around is what makes it all so special.”

It looked like the day wasn’t going to go Aussie Kim’s way as Li took the first set rather handily, but the Belgian roared back to take the crown.

“She did everything better than me in that first set,” Clijsters said. “I mean, obviously her groundstrokes were heavier, deeper. She served better. She returned better.

“So I think, you know, she was playing really, really well probably the best that I’ve ever played against her, or that she played against me.

“I tried to just, you know, think after that first set, you know, like, What can I do differently so I can maybe break her rhythm a little bit, try to make her think out there a little bit more? So I tried to mix it up a little bit, put some slices in, also hit a few higher shots that, you know, kind of just made her make some unforced errors.”

“Yeah, I saw her get a little bit aggravated, and just tried to hang in there.”

The win allows Clijsters to achieve the goal she set out for herself after winning in Flushing Meadows back in September. Because of her dominance at the US Open, she was gaining the reputation of a hard court specialist, who couldn’t win on the slower courts. She said at the time, Melbourne was the place she though she had her best chance of winning, and with her only dropping one set the whole tournament, she proved her point.

“Obviously, I mean, you know, if I could win another US Open it would also be nice,” Clijsters said. “But, no, I do enjoy this win, especially here in Australia, as well. It’s been a country where I’ve always loved coming to and where I’ve always been very well received.

“Yeah, I’ve been close to doing well, you know, a few years in a row, so it’s nice to finally get it this year.”

Now Clijsters will set her eye on the French Open and Wimbledon. She has gone one record saying she will probably either retire or reduce her schedule again after the 2012 Olympics. Yet, that’s so far away and there are other Slams to win.

“I’m not going to sit here and be like, No, that wouldn’t be nice,” she said. “But to be honest, I really haven’t thought about it. It’s a little early I think to already think ahead, focus on those kind of things.

“I’ve been really focused on this last month, you know, two months, to try and be ready for the Australian summer. And now I kind of just need a break from that whole, like, goals and preparing and all that.

“But, no, obviously the French is a Grand Slam where, you know, I would like to do well, as well. All of them, of course. But, uhm, again, yeah, I’m just excited that I won this one. Like I said, not really thinking in those kind of ways yet.

:That will probably happen after Fed Cup when I’m done and home for a few weeks. I’m playing Paris. Once after that, I’ll probably have time to sit together with the team and kind of just relook at the whole kind of schedule for later this year.”

Yet, that seems so far in the future. Right now, Clijsters is just going to enjoy her win with her husband Brian Lynch and daughter Jada, who seems to be getting used to mommy winning titles.

“She’s always excited,” Clijsters said. “Although when she saw the trophy, she was like, Who is that trophy for? And then she’s like, Did you win that? I’m like, Yeah.

“I mean, to her, she knows I play tennis, but that’s it. She doesn’t know everything else that comes with it, winning, losing. You know, obviously, I mean, she’s seen me like a little bit disappointed and stuff.

“She asks, Why are you disappointed? I explain to her that I lost. But, I mean, it’s not a big deal for her.”

Rather it’s a bigger deal for mommy who is rolling along in her second tennis career.

Dulko and Pennetta Win Women’s Doubles Crown

Top seed in Women’s Doubles Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta took the women’s double’s crown at the 2011 Australian Open, 3-6 7-5 6-1 over Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko in 131 minutes.

The duo won seven titles last year but this was their first Grand Slam crown.

“Last year was a great year, this year we are starting really good,” said Pennetta, who lost in single’s in the fourth round to Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova.

The win means Dulko will remain the No. 1 Women’s Doubles player in the world with Pennetta staying at No. 2.