Clijsters vaults into top 20 with close victory

The unseeded Belgian Kim Clijsters went one better than her boyfriend, Lleyton Hewitt, yesterday when she recorded the biggest win of her career, beating Elena Likhovtseva in the final of the WTA Sparkassen Cup here.

The unseeded Belgian Kim Clijsters went one better than her boyfriend, Lleyton Hewitt, yesterday when she recorded the biggest win of her career, beating Elena Likhovtseva in the final of the WTA Sparkassen Cup here.

Hewitt lost a thrilling five-setter in the Stuttgart Masters Tournament, but Clijsters, 17, took two hours and 15 minutes to wear down Likhovtseva, winning 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 and moving up 11 places in the world rankings to 20th. Less than two years ago the Belgian teenager was No 420. She is the youngest of the world's top 100 players.

Clijsters, who upset two top 10 players this week, Anna Kournikova and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, hit a smash on her second match point to defeat the seventh-seeded Russian. It was not an easy match for Clijsters, who had to fight off five set points to save the first set. In the final set, she struggled to hold her serve as her play suddenly grew erratic. "I wasn't feeling great out there. I was getting tired. I just tried to stay calm and go for my shots," she said.

Clijsters, the daughter of the former Belgian international footballer Leo Clijsters, started the match uncertainly and just managed to win her second service game after seven break points. But she soon got into her stride and Likhovtseva gave away the first set with a double-fault, losing the tie-break 8-6 having been 6-3 up.

Clijsters, who has to take time off school to compete in tournaments, was less sure in the second set and was broken in the 10th game. But the Belgian, who swept aside Kournikova 6-2, 6-3 in the semi-finals on Saturday, played some blistering shots to break Likhovtseva for a 5-4 lead in the deciding set and served out for the match.

"I have no idea how I do that," said Clijsters about her ability to produce her best on the most important points. "I just try to stay calm and make the points happen myself."

Clijsters's last WTA Tour win was at the Tasmanian International in January this year - her second title, which made her the youngest player to win two of her first nine events on the tour.

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?