MELBOURNE, Australia – With the possibility of it being the last Australian Open match of her career Kim Clijsters left it all on the court, pulling off a miracle comeback from quadruple match point to beat Li Na, 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4.
Although Clijsters had won five of her seven previous meetings with Li, it didn’t look like her day at all early on in the match, rolling her ankle at 3-all in the first set and continuing to play through some suspect movement, at best. She lost the first set and trailed 3-1 in the second set, but she never stopped fighting. “It probably wasn’t my best tennis, but you fight on every shot and try to win each point,” she said. “You never know what will happen on the other side of the net.”
Leading 6-2 in the second set tie-break, Li gave up the first two match points with forehand errors; Clijsters hit a forehand winner to save the third, then on the fourth – after a long exchange from the baseline – she hit a drop shot, which Li got to, but the Belgian lobbed her. Two points later Clijsters had the set.
Clijsters carried that momentum to a 5-1 lead in the third set, and although Li caught up to 5-4 and even fended off a match point herself, the Belgian kept her cool and closed out the thriller on one last Li backhand into the net.
“I can’t believe I won,” Clijsters said afterwards. “It crossed my mind a couple of times to stop because of the ankle, but it’s my last time at the Australian Open and I didn’t want to quit in my last match. My box and the crowd were cheering me on as well and I just tried to keep fighting and get back into it.
“I knew it would be tough but I didn’t expect this. It was amazing.”
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