Clijsters beats Kournikova in battle of teenagers

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The Independent Online

Belgium's Kim Clijsters won a battle of teenagers today when the up-and-coming 17-year-old overpowered Russia's Anna Kournikova in two sets at the Porsche Grand Prix in Filderstadt, Germany.

Belgium's Kim Clijsters won a battle of teenagers today when the up-and-coming 17-year-old overpowered Russia's Anna Kournikova in two sets at the Porsche Grand Prix in Filderstadt, Germany.

Clijsters displayed some of the power, along with quickness, that made her women's tennis 1999 newcomer-of-the-year in knocking off the sixth-seeded Kournikova, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the second round.

She took control of the hard-fought match in the second set at 3-3, ending a long rally and setting up a break by pulling the 18-year-old Russian to the net with a drop shot at the dlrs 535,000 event.

Clijsters then blasted a passing shot past Kournikova that hugged the line after trailing 0-40 in the game.

"That was a very big point. I like to fight hard over the big points and I win a lot of them in long rallies. It's good to show opponents that you'll fight for them," said Clijsters.

Clijsters next faces Germany's Jana Kandarr, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Russia's Tatiana Panova. In other matches, Germany's Barbara Rittner ousted Russia's Elena Likhovtseva, 6-2, 7-5 and Belgium's Justine Henin beat Spain's Gala Leon-Garcia, 6-4, 6-2.

Clijsters, the daughter of a famous soccer player, has risen from 409th to 29th in the world in less than two years. Unlike the more famous Kournikova, she already has won titles.

Her win at Hobart, Australia in January was Clijsters second in her first nine events on the women's tour - making her the youngest to accomplish the feat.

With the stands packed because of the popular Kournikova, Clijsters gained revenge for losing a three-set battle against the Russian last week at Luxembourg, closing out the match in 75 minutes.

"I'd already beaten her in the Fed Cup, so I knew I could beat her. That's why I absolutely wanted to win today," said Clijsters.

Results from the Porsche Grand Prix WTA tennis tournament (seedings in parantheses):

Kim Clijsters, Belgium, def. Anna Kournikova (6), Russia, 6-4, 6-3. Barbara Rittner, Germany, def. Elena Likhovtseva, Russia, 6-2, 7-5. Justine Henin, Belgium, def. Gala Leon-Garcia, Spain, 6-4, 6-2. Jana Kandarr, Germany, def. Tatiana Panova, Russia, 6-3, 6-2.

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