Clijsters returns Williams' serve - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Clijsters returns Williams' serve

By Tom Wald 02/01/2003 06:03:40 PM Comments (0)

The ever-polite Belgian Kim Clijsters added some spice to Friday's Hopman Cup showdown with world No.1 Serena Williams by returning serve on the brash American on Thursday.

Clijsters' grudge match against the hard-hitting Williams will have the added interest of also helping decide which country from group A makes Saturday's final in the mixed teams event.

Williams on Wednesday dismissed Clijsters' win over her in their last meeting in the final of the WTA Championships in Los Angeles in November.

The 21-year-old baseliner said she had lost for the first time in six outings against the teenager because she was tired following a long season.

But Clijsters, the world No.4, said she couldn't understand Williams' excuse of being mentally and physically flat at the end of season tournament because she had five weeks off before hand.

"It doesn't really worry me what she thinks. I thought I played a great match and that I was good enough to beat her," Clijsters said.

"And of course it is easy enough to say afterwards that she is tired ... I think she had about four weeks off before LA."

Clijsters was hampered by a shoulder injury last year but still managed to play ten more tour matches than the muscular, younger Williams.

The Belgian warmed up for the biggest match of the Australian tennis summer to date by defeating Uzbekistan's Iroda Tulyaganova 6-3 6-2 in under an hour.

But Clijsters said she respected the charismatic American's power-packed game.

"She is so good she can raise her level against the player she is playing, if she is playing someone good she can step her match up a few levels," sh said.

"Players like Serena and Venus (Williams) and (Jennifer) Capriati and (Lindsay) Davenport can do those sort of things."

Clijsters' enigmatic teammate Xavier Malisse sealed the tie against Uzbekistan by downing lowly-rated Oleg Ogorodov 6-3 6-7 (7-3) 6-2, but not before Malisse had his heart rate monitored and lost the plot in a second set tie break.

The 22-year-old nicknamed the X-man for his freakish skills displayed his exceptional ability but weak temperament taking a one set and 1-0 lead into the second set tie break.

But a dubious line call was enough to snap the world No.25's concentration and he lost the next six points to keep the world No.168 in the match.

Malisse said after the match he had felt dizzy during the opening set but there was no ongoing health problems despite clutching his back in the last set.

It had been feared that Malisse was suffering a recurrence of heart palpitations which affected him in his semi-final loss at Wimbledon to Argentine David Nalbandian last year.

"The first seven games I felt kind of weird and dizzy but as the match went on I felt better and better," he said.

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