Kim Clijsters’ Wimbledon career has finally drawn to a close. Playing for a spot in the Olympic tennis semi-finals, there were all the hallmarks of a vintage Belgian performance. The do-the-splits slice forehand, the head down fist-pump, and all in all, that tireless desire to never give up.
But, as has sadly been the case ever since she won the Australian Open in 2011, her fourth Grand Slam singles title, injury and her opponents have conspired to make her task that bit too difficult.
Today’s was Maria Sharapova, who had been forced to play some of her best tennis to squeeze past first Laura Robson and then Sabine Lisicki. And she didn’t let up against Kim.
Breaking to start the match, Sharapova compensated for her eight unforced errors with 10 winners, while Clijsters could only manage four, and 11 unforced errors instead, four of them double faults. Although the Belgian fought back as the world No.2 served for the set, she couldn’t unpick Sharapova’s form, and took the set 6-2 after 39 minutes.
It continued to go Sharapova’s way in the second too, the Russian breaking for a 3-2 lead. But Clijsters proved she has life yet, breaking straight back. Hanging onto Sharapova’s skirt, Clijsters stayed with her till 5-5 in the second set. But it was then that the Russian turned the screw, breaking for 6-5, and serving out.
Thus there will be no fairytale Olympic medal for Clijsters. But she certainly gave it a fairly decent crack.
Sharapova meanwhile advances to a semi-final against fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko, guaranteeing Russia either a gold or silver in the Olympic tennis.