End of road for Kim Clijsters as glittering career closes with defeat

 

Kim Clijsters said goodbye to professional tennis on Saturday night as she and Bob Bryan lost in the second round of the mixed doubles at the US Open.

The Belgian announced earlier this year that she would bow out at Flushing Meadows and her singles career ended on Wednesday when she was beaten by the British teenager Laura Robson.

That still left Clijsters with doubles but she lost in the first round of the women's event and she and Bryan went down 6-2, 3-6, 12-10 to Russia's Ekaterina Makarova and Brazil's Bruno Soares.

They were roared on by the Court 17 crowd, including Clijsters' husband Brian Lynch and their four-year-old daughter Jada, and it looked like she might hang on when the pair saved four match points, but it was not to be.

Clijsters, who was given a standing ovation as she addressed the crowd, said: "It's been an honour to be a part of this lifestyle and have so many dreams come true.

"Life goes on but that doesn't mean I don't love the sport any more. That's one of the reasons I wanted to play mixed doubles and I would have loved to win. I'm happy that I'm closing off this chapter and starting a new life with my family. I had a great night and I couldn't have asked for a better way to finish."

Bryan was disappointed that he could not have helped Clijsters stay in the tournament a bit longer but hailed his partner as "one of the legends".

He said: "It's a true honour. She showed tonight why she's one of the legends and she'll always be a legend. She's the nicest person in the world. I'm sorry I let you down. It's bittersweet but I love you and you played incredible."

Ana Ivanovic continued her return to form with an impressive three-set win over American rising star Sloane Stephens in the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

It was a repeat of their match at the same stage last year, which Ivanovic won, but 19-year-old Stephens has improved a lot and took the opening set on a tie-break.

The 12th seed hit back, though, levelling the match and then pulling away in the decider to win 6-7 6-4 6-2. In the fourth round Ivanovic will play the unseeded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist.

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