Jan. 14 • After a perfect start, Kim literally imploded and lost the final of the Medibank International Sydney to Na Li.
Li won five games in a row to even things up at 5-all and, after the two held serve to push it to a tie-break, Li came back another time, winning six straight points from 3-1 down to take the set. The two players traded breaks early in the second set but it was Li who got the decisive break for a 3-1 lead; they held serve the rest of the way until Li emerged with a 7-6(3) 6-3 championship victory.
'I think I just softened the quality of my strokes. I wasn't hitting as deep or aggressively as before, and she took over very quickly', Clijsters said of the first set. 'I also found it very hard today to change directions once I was going crosscourt with her backhand. Usually that's something I do very well against her. I wasn't serving great either. You try to fight, but then it becomes frustrating when you know you're not playing your best when you're trying to.'
Kim was not only seeking her third Sydney title and 41st career title, she also would have moved back to No.2 in the world with a win on Friday. Instead, Li came away with her fourth career title; she is China's first champion at the Premier level, every other WTA title for China being at the International level.
'She's definitely a player who has every quality to win a Grand Slam', Clijsters said of Li. 'She's a contender who probably isn't being focused on enough. Mentally she maybe gets a little bit nervous in big matches, but she can beat any top player out there when she's playing her best. She's very dangerous.'