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Kim Clijsters beats Justine Henin in Brisbane thriller

Kim Clijsters
Clijsters had to battle in order to beat her great rival

Kim Clijsters survived two match points to beat Justine Henin in a thrilling Brisbane International final.

Clijsters looked to be romping to an easy win after claiming the first set and taking a 4-1 lead in the second.

But her game crumbled and Henin, in her first tournament since coming out of retirement, hit back to take the set and a 3-0 lead in the decider.

Clijsters battled back, saving two match points, and edged a dramatic tie-break to win 6-3 4-6 7-6 (8-6).

The match, which lasted two hours and 23 minutes, brought the Brisbane crowd on its feet as the great Belgian rivals produced an epic encounter - with Clijsters winning on her fourth match point.

"I think we set the bar pretty high for ourselves for the rest of the year," said Clijsters, who made her own return from retirement to win last year's US Open.

I hope it's not that serious and that I'm going to be able to recover soon

Justine Henin on her leg injury

"It's a great tournament to start the year with. I couldn't be happier with myself."

But Henin's efforts came at a cost as the former world number one revealed afterwards she had injured her left leg and, with her focus on the Australian Open starting on 18 January, would not play in next week's Sydney International.

"It was a bit sore in the last few days and really got worse in the third set," said Henin, who won the Australian Open in 2004.

"I hope it's not that serious and that I'm going to be able to recover soon, but it would be just a great, great mistake to go and play in Sydney.

"But it's no excuse, it's not the reason why I lost."

Clijsters, who will donate her winnings to the Brisbane's Royal Children's Hospital, played some superb tennis in the opening stages to take control of the match but the 26-year-old's game suddenly went to pieces as she tried to close out the contest.

606: DEBATE

Henin, playing as wildcard in her first event since May 2008, took full advantage and won the next eight games to gain the initiative.

But Clijsters refused to give in and broke back to put the set back on serve only to suffer in the eighth game when she put an overhead smash into the net to concede the break.

With the tension rising, the 27-year-old Henin did exactly the same in the next game as her opponent broke back immediately.

Henin had two match points at 5-4 on Clijsters' serve but could not convert either and the match went into a thrilling tie-break.

Clijsters immediately gained the upper hand by taking a 4-0 and then a 5-1 lead but she failed to convert three match points as Henin battled back to 6-6.

There was no fairytale comeback win for Henin, however, as the seven-time Grand Slam winner double-faulted on the next point to give Clijsters a fourth match point, which she claimed with a forehand.

"I forgot how to make a speech," said Henin, who defeated second-seeded Nadia Petrova and third-seeded Ana Ivanovic on the way to the final.

"It's just great to be back. I want to congratulate Kim. It was a great fight. I really enjoyed my time out here. It couldn't expect more. It was a dream."



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see also
Curtains up for new year
09 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Henin and Clijsters meet in final
08 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Henin reaches Brisbane semi-final
07 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Clijsters eyes rematch with Henin
05 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Henin registers comeback victory
04 Jan 10 |  Tennis
New Year's resolution
30 Dec 09 |  Tennis
Henin confirms Brisbane comeback
21 Oct 09 |  Tennis
Henin announces shock retirement
14 May 08 |  Tennis


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