Kim Clijsters and her daughter, 2009 US Open

In 2007 at the age of 23, Kim Clijsters retired to start a family. Two years later she defeated Caroline Wozniacki in the US Open final to become the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong in 1980.

From Bud Collins History of tennis:

Serena, the title holder, was the one constant in the quarterfinals – but who were these other folks?
Well, 23-year-old Kim Clijsters, the 2005 champ, looked familiar. However, she’d been retired almost three seasons, had a baby, and played only seven matches coming into New York as a wild card with no WTA ranking.

Amazingly, she also looked formidable, the lone unseeded/wild card entry to win the title, 7-5 6-3, over 19-year-old Caroline Wozniacki. As the first Dane to ascend to the final, Caroline had ousted 2004 champ Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6 7-6 7-6 in the fourth round.

But of course, the sweetheart of Flushing – the crowds’ darling was 17-year-old Georgian Melanie Oudin; who tool off from number 70 and didn’t come down until number 9 Wozniacki stopped her in the quarters 6-2 6-2. But prior to that, come-backing Melanie the Fair Maid of Marietta, conducted her private war with Russia. Short, but long of baseline strokes and fight, she overcame numbers 36-4-29-13 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-2, Elena Dementieva 5-7 6-4 6-3, Maria Sharapova 3-6 6-4 7-5, Nadia Petrova 1-6 7-6 6-3.

Co-favorites were the Sisters Williams, but Clijsters chased both of them, Venus in the fourth round 6-0 0-6 6-4, and Serena in a bizarre and contentious semi, 6-4 7-5. The latter disrupted the tournament, a match disintegrating on a sad though historic note – a penalty point leveled a raging Serena was the abrupt end. At 15-30, Serena serving a second ball, was called for a foot fault, stepping on the baseline. That made it 15-40, match point. Whereupon Serena lost her head and directed a profane, threatening tirade at the Japanese baseline judge, Shino Tsurubuchi, raising her racquet menacingly at the official. Since the American had already incurred a warning violation for smashing her racquet at the close of the first set, the next infraction – her blow-up – called for a penalty point from umpire Louise Engzell. That concluded the game and the match, an unprecedented closure without a ball being struck. Williams was fined $10,000 by the US Open, but later fined another $82,500 (a record fine) by the Grand Slam Committee. She was fortunate not to be suspended. Another stranger, number 50, Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, got to the semis, there beaten by Wozniacki, 6-3 6-3.

Jennifer Capriati

By Bruce Schoenfeld, Tennis Magazine (November/December 2004)

At 28, Jennifer Capriati knows her days are numbered. Following a dramatic but disappointing run to the US Open semifinals, her hopes of another major victory now rest on the 2005 Australian Open.

Jennifer Capriati had been crying. Her red-rimmed eyes gave her away as she stepped into the interview room in Arthur Ashe stadium after her semifinal loss to Elena Dementieva at the US Open. Usually so calm, so cautious, so media-trained, she couldn’t help but offer a glimpse into her soul.

Who could blame her? It was all so unfair. She’d fought so hard against Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, doing what she had to do to win, only to have it undermined by that silly controversy about the umpire’s overrule. For two days, it was all she saw on television, the ball landing near the line and Serena striding toward the chair. Didn’t they have anything else to talk about? Lying in bed at night, she replayed the point over and over, like a bad song she couldn’t get out of her head. Then, against Dementieva, she had found herself a game away from finally reaching a US Open final after all these years. And wouldn’t you know it? The wind was swirling, the sun was in her eyes, and suddenly she was out of the Open again, facing a press conference like so many others.

She’d squandered her fist opportunity, in 1991, as a 15-year-old, losing a memorable semifinal match to Monica Seles in a third-set tiebreaker that would haunt Capriati for years. A decade later, in 2001, she reached another semifinal, this time losing to Venus Williams in straight sets. And then last year she’d served for the match in the semis against Justine Henin-Hardenne but couldn’t close it out. This year’s semifinal against Dementieva, who was floating seves of 60 mph and slower across the net, presented her best chance, and possibly her last.

“I was just thinking, Play the wind the best you can,” she murmured. “I guess I waited for her maybe to make a few more errors. I mean, I can’t really…” She trailed off. “I don’t know.”

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First off, I would like to wish you all an Happy New Year! I wish you all the best for 2011.

And now, a few tennis news:

After Dementieva, Moya, Hrbaty and Dent, Nicolas Kiefer announced his retirement.
A gifted player, Kiefer -like Haas- was expected to be the next Boris Becker, and even though he reached the semifinals at the 2006 Australian Open and the top 4 ranking in 2000, he never was a major threat. Turned pro in 1995, he captured 6 singles titles, the last one ten years ago in Hong Kong, beating Mark Philippoussis in final.
He played for Germany in the Davis Cup and teamed with Rainer Schuettler for a doubles silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics (lost to Gonzalez/Massu).
Honestly, I won’t miss this player but I wish him good luck for his new life.

Speaking of Dementieva, she was named Vice-President of the Russian Tennis Federation, after retiring from playing two months ago.

Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer in the final of the Abu Dhabi exhibition, and Kim Clijsters beat Caroline Wozniacki in Hua Hin, Thailand.
Well, I must say that I don’t get why players can’t stop complaining about the length of the season, and then keep playing those stupid exhibitions. Would it not be better to rest a bit or spend some time with the family?
That being said, here’s a nice pic of Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki .

Tournaments to follow this week:
– the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, Aircel Chennai Open in Chennai, Brisbane International (ATP)
– the Brisbane International and ASB Classic in Hobart (WTA)
You can find the complete 2011 calendar here.

And to begin this new year in style, Tennis Buzz will feature Tennis Buzz Marathon. From Monday til Friday, I will watch and comment a match from the past:
– on Monday: Graf-Hingis, Roland Garros, 1999
– on Tuesday: Laver-Newcombe, Wimbledon, 1969
– on Wednesday: Borg-Nastase, Wimbledon, 1976
– on Thursday: Nadal-Gonzalez, Olympic Games, 2008
– on Friday: Edberg-Courier, US Open, 1991

Have a good tennis week on Tennis Buzz!

From now on, a new series of posts: Tennis Buzz, the week in review, with all the latest tennis news and a preview of next week action.

This week’s biggest news was of course Elena Dementieva‘s retirement.
She announced her retirement following a 6-4, 6-2 loss to French Open champion Francesca Schiavone at the WTA Championships in Doha.
The 29-year-old Russian reached two Grand Slam finals, won the singles gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 16 WTA singles titles.

An offensive baseline player with powerful groundstrokes, she was able to play well on any surface. Her biggest weaknesses were her serve and her inability to win big matches. She will now and forever be a candidate for the title of Best Player Never to Win a Major.
She will be truly missed for her class, her work ethic and also her smile. Thanks Elena and all the best for the future.
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Upset of the day: Stanislas Wawrinka defeats Andy Murray
Wawrinka pulled out the biggest upset of this year’s US Open so far: he bounced 2008 US Open runner-up in 4 sets. Murray still can’t win when it really counts.

Match of the day: Sam Stosur defeats Elena Dementieva
Without a doubt one of the best matches of the tournament so far. They battled until 1:37 am, they both had match points, but in the end, the Australian prevailed 6-3 2-6 7-6.

Quote of the day: Tracy Austin about Sam Stosur and Elena Dementieva:

I think they’re hitting harder than the guys in the first match.

US player of the day: Venus Williams
Venus beat 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 and qualified for her 10th US Open quarterfinal (in 12 trips to Flushing Meadows). Her next opponent: 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone.

Stat of the day: 1
There will be at least one spanish player in semifinals as only Spaniards remain in the top quarter of the men’s singles draw: Rafael Nadal, Feliciano Lopez, David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco. Tommy Robredo and Albert Montanes also qualified for fourth round.

Pic of the day: Kim Clijsters
Just impressive: Kim won her 18th straight match at the US Open Sunday, defeating Ana Ivanovic, 6-2, 6-1, to advance to the quarterfinals. Ivanovic never looked like a former number one and was completely outplayed.

Matches to follow on day 8
Fish vs Djokovic
Wozniacki vs Sharapova