In a battle of former No. 1s, Maria Sharapova squandered three match points, giving a flat Kim Clijsters a chance to come charging back after a rain delay to steal the WTA Cincinnati title 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-1.
Sharapova led 6-2, 5-3, failing to close out three match points and dropping serve to let the belgian back in the match. Clijsters forced a tiebreak, trailing 3-0 before against storming back, winning seven of the next eight points. Clijsters continued to roll in the third set, aided by what appeared to be a niggling foot injury on the part of Sharapova.
Sharapova under stress in the third set lost her trademark “Byouooooooooo! Byouooooooooo!” shrieks when hitting the ball, looking for Clijsters to put her out of her misery, and graciously shaking hands and offering congratulations at the net.
“I was so close to losing and then this dark cloud came,” Clijsters said. “I thought I was hitting well from the baseline with her but my serve wasn’t working well. During the delay I had to regroup and refocus, and when I came back I played aggressively and turned it around. I’m really happy.”
Clijsters is 4-0 in finals since coming out of retirement last year, and is the first player to win three titles in 2010 following wins at Brisbane and Miami. The Belgian beat two other former No. 1s this week, Dinara Safina and Ana Ivanovic who retired in the first set with a foot injury.
Sharapova dropped to 2-3 in finals this year. The Russian called for the trainer in the third set to take a look at her foot.
“Congratulations to Kim on a great match and great tournament, I look forward to playing her again soon,” Sharapova said. “I’ll definitely be back next year.”
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UPDATE1: Clijsters Officially Announces She Will Un-Retire in 2009