Jan. 13 • In Sydney, Kim has survived a marathon three-set semifinal with Alisa Kleybanova to reach her first final of the year, defeating the Russian 4-6 6-3 7-6(1) in more than two hours.
Kim, ranked and seeded No.3, trailed 3-1 and 4-2 in the final set as she struggled for consistency on her groundstrokes. But just when Kleybanova was poised for a huge victory she faltered, handing back the break on both occasions.
Trailing 4-5 and 5-6 on serve Kim held tough, serving an ace for 6-all to send the match into a final-set tie-break.
There, Clijsters’s experience won out as she played steady yet aggressive tennis, dropping just one point en route to victory after 2 hours and 38 minutes.
'I’m pleased with the way that I finished off and with the way that, it probably wasn’t my best tennis, but I had to work for it really hard', said Kim. 'She’s a very unpredictable player. I think her game is very tough to read. Even during the rallies I think she can just change directions so easily.'
'There is actually no disappointment', said Kleybanova, winner of her first two WTA singles titles in 2010 (Kuala Lumpur, Seoul). 'It was a great match. Of course I’m a bit sad that I lost – it was close. It’s also a bit tricky when you are losing the final set tiebreaker. But I enjoyed this week. I played every match very well. I’m happy with the way I finished this tournament. Of course always would be better if I would win, but it happened as it happened.'
Kim will meet No.8 seed Li Na for the title, a player she’s beaten four in five previous meetings, including two clashes here in Sydney, in 2006 and 2007.
Their last encounter took place at the 2009 US Open, which Clijsters won, 6-2 6-4.