13 Dec 2012

FAREWELL...

(13 DECEMBER) For years there's been this joke, in Dutch, that each time Kim entered the Antwerp Sportpaleis the roof is blown off by the audience's cheers. This time as well, when Kim entered the court of the 'Kim's Thank You Games' at about 7.15pm for her last match the crowd went wild.



After warming up Kim and Venus were ready for 3 tie-break sets. Kim won the toss and started serving. She reeled in the first points of the match. At 30-0 a first rallye was decided in favour of the Belgian, after which she pressed on and won the first game, 1-0. 

When finally halfway into the second game someone cheered Venus, the American was visibly pleased. With a bit of luck Venus won the second game. The third game already offered the level the audience wanted to see. Both players were well-matched, there were some rallies and dropshots. Kim won her second service game, after which DJ Regi took over. 

However, in the fourth game there was no holding Venus and the American quickly levelled at 2-2. The fifth game did not take long either and at the next break Kim was leading 3-2. Breaks between games were brief and with pumping beats produced by Regi, the event started going really fast.


At a first break point in the fifth game, which Kim had managed after a near split, Venus equalled. At deuce, Kim opted for Venus in the receiver's choice and broke through Venus's service game: 4-2 after 17 minutes. When at 30-all in the seventh game, Kim reeled in her point, she produced a decided fist, visibly happy with the win. She powered on to 5-2. 

In a rather straightforward game, Venus started her way back into the match at 5-3. Regi subsequently got the crowd going before Kim served it out to take the first set 6-3 after 26 minutes.


Venus started the second set with a winner on her service game, but her second point went too wide, as did her third. More unforced errors followed, but at 30-40 Kim sent the ball along the sideline just right, which prompted a thumbs up from Venus. Kim eventually won the first game, breaking Venus's serve. Hands clapped to the sound of 'Seven Nation Army'. 

In Kim's first service game of the second set, Venus started playing more secure and the Belgian soon faced a 15-40 difference. After an unforced error by Kim, Venus equalled, 1-1. With a series of unforced errors, Venus won the third game, 2-1. 

At 2-2 and 30-30, 45 minutes into the match, the crowd enjoyed some tense wide and open tennis with lots of volleys. Another point later the temperature started rising in the Antwerp Sportpaleis, especially among the players. Kim eventually won the fifth game and lead 3-2. The first Mexican wave started going around, with Venus and Kim joining. It became a true farewell wave. 

After 55 minutes, Venus easily won her service game. At 4-3, it seemed the second set was about to mimick the first one. At 30-0 on her serve, Kim produced funny noises, nice dropshots - upon which Venus replied with more or less success - and timid smiles with part of the the audience: 5-3. 

As the set came to a close, more and more photographers joined along the court. Clearly some more competition was left, but not for long. On a double fault, it was game, set and match for Kim: 6-3 6-3 after 62 minutes. 




In an immediate response after the match Venus reiterated that it was great to be back. 'I've got so many great memories here. It's an honour to be back.' To which Kim replied 'Venus, it's been a pleasure to have you here tonight and a real honour to have been playing you in the last 15 years. You've been an inspiration, it's always been a pleasure playing against you.'

Kim then received a huge Babolat racket, after which the party was about to start. 


Under loud tones produced by Regi, Kim left the Sportpaleis, her final act as a tennis player on a professional court, although she would be back for a doubles match alongside Amélie Mauresmo, against Venus Williams and Kirsten Flipkens. (Kim and Amélie lost 5-8.)








THANK YOU KIM!


(adapted from kimclijsters.com)

2 Dec 2012

KIM WINS 8TH KK SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD!

(2 DECEMBER) The WTA Tour has revealed the 2012 WTA player awards and, for her final season on tour, Kim has been awarded the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award, recognizing professionalism, attitude and sense of fair play. This award was voted for by the WTA players themselves and it's the 8th time Kim has won it! What a nice tribute from Kim's peers...

29 Oct 2012

KIM'S THANK YOU GAMES

(29 OCTOBER) Hello everyone! Long time, no post but we're now slowly getting closer to Kim's farewell night, the Kim's Thank You Games which will take place on 12 December 2012 in Antwerp. So here's some more information for you...

Kim's opponent has just been revealed and it will be no one less than... Venus Williams. The American has a special relationship with the Antwerp Sportpaleis where she won 2 Diamond Games titles in the past (out of four appearances). This is what she had to say: 'This is a very special moment for me. I was in Antwerp already at the first edition of the Diamond Games in 2002. I'm always very happy to play here, the audience is incredible. It is an honour to be able to play against Kim in her last match. I am really looking forward to it and am very pleased with the invitation!'

After the match, there will be a one-hour farewell show, followed by some more tennis action, as Kim gets back onto court to play a doubles match. Kim will pair up with former World No.1 Amélie Mauresmo to face Venus Williams and Kirsten Flipkens!

There are currently hardly 3000 (of the 13,000) tickets left available. Should you still want to be part of this special event, then book now via www.thankyougames.be or via telephone (+32 70 345 345).

2 Sep 2012

US OPEN • KIM AND BOB BRYAN OUT OF MIXED DOUBLES

(2 SEPTEMBER) So this is really it. Kim has just played her very last professional tennis match, as she and Bob Bryan have lost their US Open mixed doubles 2nd round to Makarova/Soares 2-6 6-3 10-12.


'It's surprising that I kept it dry, I haven't been crying', Kim said. 'I think that's just another sign that it's the right choice.'

Kim, a four-time Grand Slam champion, announced months ago the U.S. Open would be her last tournament. She lost to British teen Laura Robson in the women's singles 2nd round on Wednesday, snapping a 22-match winning streak at Flushing Meadows, where the Belgian won titles in 2005, 2009 and 2010.

Kim and Kirsten Flipkens then lost in the 1st round of women's doubles on Thursday.

The mixed doubles loss pulled down the curtain on the 29-year-old Belgian's career. It came with her husband, Brian Lynch, watching from the stands with their 4-year-old daughter, Jada, in his lap playing with a stuffed animal.


When it was over, security guards worked hard to clear a path from the court to the locker room, as Kim was swarmed by TV cameras, autograph seekers and other fans -- all trying to grab one more memory from a player whose smile and positive attitude spoke as loudly as her game.

'You can feel the fans', Bob Bryan said. 'But the people in the locker room, when they love you and they respect you that much, that's true character. That's what Kim has.'

Kim said even though she gave it her all for the match, she couldn't feign heartbreak over her latest (and last) loss.

'Do you want me to say I'm shattered that we lost?' she said, in jest, to Bryan.

If she couldn't go out a winner, at least she can say she was part of an entertaining show.

She and Bryan saved four match points in the super-tiebreaker used to decide the match and Kim hit the key shots on all those points. The best was a looping crosscourt, backhand lob that nobody could touch. It made the score 10-10 and Clijsters pumped both fists and shouted her trademark 'Come oooon!'

'I just didn't want to miss or hit a bad shot on match point and let that be my last professional point ever', she said. 'I wanted to go for it. Luckily, it worked a couple times.'

The last shot came on a serve Makarova sliced into her body. Kim couldn't handle it. The crowd groaned. Then cheered while the former World No. 1 and Bryan hugged.


'Life goes on', Kim said in an on-court interview. 'I'm getting older. I've had a few injuries. It doesn't mean I don't love the sport. That's one of the reasons I wanted to come out here and play mixed.'

Bryan, who has 11 Grand Slam doubles titles with his brother, Mike, said regardless of whether they get No. 12 next weekend, the chance to play with Kim 'really is the highlight of the tournament.'

Soares agreed. He and Makarova have combined to oust Kim, both Bryan brothers and Lisa Raymond, who has 11 Grand Slam doubles titles to her name, on back-to-back nights.

'But to be honest, it came to a moment where winning or losing was just a small part of the whole thing tonight', Soares said. 'It was just so nice, so fulfilling to be playing that match. I was happy either way.'

Kim was, too.

'I had a great night', she said. 'And I couldn't have asked for a better way to finish here.'

Kim will spend a few more days in New York before flying back to Belgium.

adapted from www.espn.com

1 Sep 2012

US OPEN • KIM AND BOB WIN OPENER

(1 SEPTEMBER) Kim's last tournament is not over just yet as she and Bob Bryan have got through the 1st round of the US Open mixed doubles, defeating wildcards Falconi/Johnson in straight sets 6-2 6-2.



In the 2nd round the Belgian-American duo will face the pair Makarova/Soares, who have defeated No. 2 seeds Raymond/M. Bryan in their opener.

This match should be the last one on Grandstand and should not start before 3.30 pm, local time. It might however be moved to Arthur Ashe Stadium.

30 Aug 2012

US OPEN • DOUBLES EVENTS INFO

(30 AUGUST) Kim may be out of the singles event, but she still had to two evens to enjoy her last moments as a professional tennis player. Here's what you need to know!

WOMEN'S DOUBLES
Kim and Kirsten (Flipkens) have been defeated in the 1st round of the US Open women's doubles event. The pair Chuang/Zhang proved too strong and prevailed in straight sets 6-3 6-4.



MIXED DOUBLES
Kim's very last event will be the US Open mixed doubles. Our Kimmie is teaming up with Bob Bryan and they will play their 1st round match against Falconi/Johnson tomorrow (Friday) in the last match on Court 17.

US OPEN • SO THIS IS IT...

(29 AUGUST) So this is it. Kim has just played her final professional singles tennis match. In the 2nd round of the US Open, Laura Robson proved too strong and defeated Kim in straight sets 7-6(4) 7-6(5).


Early in the match, Kim seemed ready to advance comfortably after racing to a 4-1 lead in the first set. Robson, however, had other ideas for the Belgian after the athletic game of Kim began to break down slightly. While serving for the set at 5-3, the Belgian faltered allowing Robson back into the match.

She wouldn’t win a game until 5-all on her serve as Robson’s movement improved and the Brit’s power game proved on par with Kim’s.

The Brit next took the match into a tiebreak and, after saving three set points, converted her first opportunity to grab a lead her first break point with help from a Kim return error. 


In the second set, however, the Belgian would take the lead early on with help from faults from the Robson serve. On her own serve a game later, Kim struck a double fault of her own to donate back a game.


A tight battle between the two women ensued soon after, with Robson ultimately earning two match points on Kim's serve at 6-5. The Belgian, however, summoned the form that earned her so many titles in a celebrated career to get to a second set tiebreak in which she saved two first match points. Ultimately, however, Kim faltered after Robson's serve forced a mistake from the Belgian's backhand wing.


Despite the end to her singles career, Clijsters will still play in both the doubles and mixed doubles events.

'I just want to thank Kim for being such a good role model for me for so many years', Robson said in her on-court interview straight after the match. 'It was an absolute pleasure to play against you.'

'This feels like the perfect place to retire, I just wish it wasn't today', Kim said. 'I gave it my all today and it just wasn't good enough at the end of the match. But I'm still in doubles and mixed doubles.'
'Since I came back it's been a great adventure for me, my team and my family, and it has all been worth it, but I'm excited for the next part of my life.'


'In the first hour after the match there was still disappointment and a little bit of frustration. I still had that routine of going through the match and trying to figure out how to do it better next time. But after thinking about the retirement in singles, I'm happy. The last year and a half or even two years have been kind of up and down, and I'm happy I stuck through it and lived a lot of these emotions I've had. I'm kind of proud of myself in a way that I was able to do that.'

'Even moments like today where I'm able to save those match points, those are definitely moments that are fun to have, fighting for it when you're not playing your best, playing with your back against the wall and still finding a way to come back and play well.'


'I knew before I stepped on court I would have to play well. I've practiced with Laura at Wimbledon – we had a really good practice, and I told my team she hits the ball so clean. Today she moved really well and anticipated really well. If she gets better physically and even more explosive, she's going to be a great player, and someone I'll be watching and keeping an eye on.'
'The words she said on court after the match were so nice. I got a little bit emotional there. It was nice to hear those things from another player.'

WOMEN'S DOUBLES
Kim will however be back on court as soon as today as she plays her women's doubles 1st round match with Kirsten Flipkens. They'll play the pair Chuang/Zhang in the second match on Court 4, so not before 12.30pm, local time.

28 Aug 2012

US OPEN • KIM EASES INTO 2ND ROUND

(28 AUGUST) Kim closed the first act of her final US Open curtain call with an authoritative 6-3 6-1 win over 16-year-old WTA newcomer Victoria Duval in 51 minutes on Monday night.


This is Kim's 22nd straight win at Flushing Meadows, and she is looking to claim her fourth US Open crown before officially retiring after the tournament. 

Little did Duval know when she won the USTA Girls' 18s National Championships, her automatic wild card entry would earn her a night on tennis's biggest stage, across the net from one of the players she looked up to as a kid. Despite her youth, the young American put up a good fight to start the match, taking a 3-2 lead shortly after conceding the first two games of the set.

But whether it was the nerves of playing under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium, or the sheer power and experience of Kim's game, Duval couldn't seem to handle the pressure after that and dropped the first set. Kim followed up with a clean second set, giving up only one game en route to securing a spot in the 2nd round.

Kim put on quite a show with 23 winners, compared to the lone winner Duval was able to strike against the veteran.


Playing against an opponent 13 years her junior, the Belgian admitted it brought back memories of her beginning years on the WTA Tour, and she saw a lot of potential in the young Duval's future on tour, as well.

'I had moments when I was younger when I played Steffi at Wimbledon and she was my big idol', she said. 
'So, yeah, it kind of takes you back through a lot of emotions and memories. I was talking to her before the match. It was nice in a way to get a feeling of the atmosphere from her side. I just told her, you know, that we've all been there and it's great to have these opportunities. I look forward to kind of keeping an eye on her in the future.'
When all was said and done, it was Duval who gained a new fan, as Kim asked to take a photo with her after the match. 
'It's a great memory for me as well to be in the position that I was in, playing somebody who followed me for most of my career. That has not really happened, I don't think, so it was nice in a way.'

In the 2nd round, Kim will play against Laura Robson. Their match will be the 3rd one tomorrow (Wednesday) on Arthur Ashe Stadium, and should not start before 3pm, local time.


adapted from www.usopen.org

23 Aug 2012

US OPEN • KIM'S DRAWS

(23 AUGUST) The US Open women's draw has been revealed and here is what it looks like for Kim (based on the opponents she is more likely to face):

 1st • DUVAL
 2nd • ROBSON
 3rd • LI
 4th • STOSUR
 QF • AZARENKA/LISICKI
 SF • KVITOVA/SHARAPOVA
 F • S. WILLIAMS/KERBER/A. RADWANSKA

You can have a look at the whole draw here.

Kim's 1st round match against Duval will be the first night session match on Monday, and should start around 7pm, local time.


WOMEN'S DOUBLES
In the women's doubles event Kim will team up with fellow Belgian and friend Kirsten Flipkens. They will meet Chuang/Zhang in the 1st round.

You can have a look at the women's doubles draw here.


MIXED DOUBLES
In the mixed doubles event Kim and Bob Bryan will play the American pair Falconi/Johnson.

Click here for the full mixed doubles draw.

21 Aug 2012

KIM'S US OPEN (AND LAST) OUTFIT

(21 AUGUST) The last Grand Slam tournament of the year is just around the corner, but in the meantime let's take a sneak peak at Kim's US Open 2012 kit. Once again some great work by the Fila team to give Kim a nice outfit for what will be her final professional tournament.

These are presumably the day (and night) outfits:



The bigger stars with a tennis ball on the inside stand for Kim's 4 Grand Slam titles. The other bigger stars represent Kim's 11-year partnership with Fila.


To celebrate Kim's very last tennis outfit with Fila, let's have a look at some of the most memorable Fila kits Kim has worn over the years.

2 Aug 2012

OLYMPICS • KIM'S MEDAL QUEST ENDS IN QUARTERS

(2 AUGUST) Kim's Olympic tournament has come to end today as the Belgian lost to Maria Sharapova 2-6 5-7 in the quarterfinals.


Kim’s career at the All England Club has finally drawn to a close. Playing for a spot in the Olympic tennis semifinals, 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 8 unforced errors with 10 winners, while Kim could only manage 4, 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 the Russian 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 Kim proved she has life yet, breaking straight back. Hanging onto Sharapova’s skirt, Kim 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 Kim. But she certainly gave it a fairly decent crack.


'I think overall she was the better player', Kim said. 'She served well and I think of all the matches that I've played against her this is the best that she's served, and on grass it's going to be tough to beat her.'
'It's a nice experience every time you go out on Centre Court so I'm happy to say that my last match at Wimbledon was on Centre Court.'

As of now, Kim's next tournament will also be her final one: the US Open. She might enter some preparatory event but that's not what's on the agenda right now.

1 Aug 2012

OLYMPICS • KIM THROUGH TO QUARTERS

(1 AUGUST) Kim is through to the London 2012 Olympics quarters after defeating Ana Ivanovic 6-3 6-4.

Make no mistake, Kim is a gold medal contender at London 2012. The Belgian has been plagued by injuries of late, but she seems to be back to her best on the grass courts and is through to the quarterfinals at the Olympic Tennis Event without dropping a set.


Following wins over Roberta Vinci and Carla Suarez Navarro in the opening two rounds, Kim booked her place in the last eight by defeating former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic 6-3 6-4 on Wednesday.

Our four-time Grand Slam champion served impeccably throughout the match and offered just two break point opportunities to Ivanovic, the No. 11 seed, neither of which were converted. At the other end, one break in each set was enough for the 29-year-old mother-of-one to wrap up victory in 58 minutes.

In tricky conditions on No. 18 Court, Kim started well and broke in the fourth game to edge ahead. With grey clouds brewing overhead, the world No. 36 just managed to clinch the first set before rain forced the players off court.

When they returned, Kim dodged two break points on her opening serve and then, adding salt to the wound, immediately broke the Serb in the next game. That was all the advantage she needed and proceeded to serve out the match with ease.

'I think the conditions were tough today, going on and off court. I managed to stay focused, even when I won the first set, when we had to go back inside', said Kim, who is making her Olympic debut at London 2012. 'It didn't feel easy. At this stage of the tournament, you have to fight and you have to play some of your best tennis, and I did. I felt like I was doing a lot of good things out there today, and served a little bit better at important points. So overall I'm very pleased.'


Kim has already announced this will be her penultimate tournament as a professional tennis player, with her final appearance coming at the US Open in a few weeks, but she insists that doesn’t change her mind-set when she takes to the court.

'It's actually surprisingly easy', she explained. 'I'm here to play tennis and that's what I'm focusing on. I don't think about it being finished. For the last 17, 18 years, I've been focusing on my matches. I'll do that until I play my last match. I think that routine and that rhythm is there automatically. So it doesn't change anything. When I came here to Wimbledon a few weeks ago, you take your time to take a lot of things in. You think about things a little bit more, but once you're focused on your match, I mean, I don't think about that this is my second to the last tournament at all.'

The reward for Kim is a quarterfinal match-up with Roland Garros winner Maria Sharapova. The Belgian leads Sharapova 5-3 in their head-to-head count. Their match will be the last match on Centre Court tomorrow (Thursday), and should thus not start before 6pm, local time.

30 Jul 2012

OLYMPICS • KIM THROUGH TO 3RD ROUND

(30 JULY) Kim is through to the London 2012 Olympics 3rd round after defeating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3 6-3.


As a working mum it is little wonder Kim’s mind will wander from the job at hand occasionally, even if it is before the watchful eyes of an Olympic crowd.

Having secured the first set on her way to a relatively comfortable 6-3, 6-3 2nd round victory over Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro on Monday, the Belgian strolled to the wrong end of the court ready to begin play again.

Realising her blunder, she quickly jogged to the opposite end, laughing off the matter and apologising to a crowd that cheered with approval once she had cottoned on.

It was one of few lapses for Kim during her one-hour 10-minute match on No.1 Court. She got her mind quickly back on the job to break Suarez Navarro in the opening game of the second set and fought back from 0-40 to consolidate the break for 2-0.

Consecutive double faults from the Spaniard’s racket handed Kim a buffer of a double break and just as well. After the Belgian held points for 5-0, Suarez Navarro lifted and Kim’s mind again wandered momentarily from the job.

She dropped serve after making a mess of a simple forehand volley put-away, allowing Suarez Navarro to take three games on the trot.


The revival was short-lived. Kim took the next two games to set up a 3rd round meeting with 11th seeded Serbian Ana Ivanovic on Wednesday. Their match will be played at 11.30 (local time) on Court 18.

'It will be a tough one. Ana is a good player, she's a good friend as well and we've been playing for many years', Kim said. 'Usually if I don't play her I root for her because I always want her to do well. We know each other pretty well and it's exciting to play each other in this kind of atmosphere. I'm going to enjoy this one.'

28 Jul 2012

OLYMPICS • KIM BOOKS 1ST WIN

(28 JULY) Kim's first Olympic Games have started with a win as she raced through her opening round London 2012 match in just over an hour, defeating Italian Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-4.


Kim gave Belgium plenty to cheer about on Day One of the London 2012 Olympics. On No.2 Court, the Belgian drew first blood against the Italian, breaking for 3-1 before holding confidently for 4-1.

Vinci – a player more than competent at net – attempted to serve-volley at 30-30 to change the tone of the first set but the Belgian passed with ease, her forehand down the line bringing up break point, which she converted when Vinci’s drop shot landed short.

With the winners beginning to flow from Kim’s forehand down the line, she sealed the first set 6-1 in 25 minutes.


Breaking immediately to commence the second set, she looked well in control only to slip after being wrong-footed to hand the break of serve straight back.

Serving for the match at 5-4, a fleeting bout of Olympic nerves set in as Kim opened with a double fault before handing Vinci two break points.

She steadied and when a Vinci backhand sailed long Kim had her first match point.

It would be the only chance she needed as finished the point off at net to book her 2nd round berth after 61 minutes.

'I'm very happy with how I was feeling and I played good, solid tennis. I just had to be very focused', Kim said. 'My tactical plan was to try not to let her get into the match where she can play with the opponent. She moves them around and it was up to me to stay on top of my baseline and not give her the opportunity to do that.'

'The Olympic spirit is like a virus, it spreads', Kim said. 'When you see all the other athletes from your country and the people who follow it, it's hard not to get into it. The Olympic sport in general is so unique, and you can hear that when someone like Roger (Federer) talks about it. He has won so many Grand Slams but he wants a gold medal in the singles because he hasn't won that.'

In the 2nd round, Kim will face Carla Suarez Navarro.