Clijsters ready for swansong

Three-time US Open winner Kim Clijsters aiming to finish her career on a high at Flushing Meadows.

    Clijsters ready for swansong
    The Belgian star is hoping for a fairytale ending at Flushing Meadows - where she has triumphed three times - before retiring at the age of 29 [AFP]

    Three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters is ready to give up the globe-trotting tennis star life at the age of 29 in order to spend more time as a wife and mother.

    But first, she's going to give winning a Grand Slam title one last try.

    Clijsters was set to begin the final tournament of her WTA career on Monday night at the US Open against American Victoria Duval at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where she captured women's crowns in 2005, 2009 and 2010.

    "I've trained very hard for the past year to try and stay in shape. I'm not worried that I'm not physically ready for it," Clijsters said.

    "Just like every other Slam, take it one match at a time. I have an opponent first round, a girl I don't know and have never played against. They can be tricky as well. I'm just focused on playing my best."

    Winning streak

    Clijsters, whose Grand Slam title haul also includes last year's Australian Open, has a 24-match US Open win streak. However, she has missed five of the past eight Flushing Meadows fortnights due to injury or retirement breaks.

    The Belgian gave birth to daughter Jada, 4, in 2008 and has brought the child along with her in her global tennis travels.

    But Clijsters said she knows the time is right to depart the sport now even though older players are still winning Grand Slams.

    "You feel it when it's right," Clijsters said.

    "It's a feeling you need to have inside if you still want to keep going and you want more of those adrenaline rushes. I just know for me the time is right."

    Not even another US Open title will keep her from a second and final retirement, Clijsters said, a fact that left men's and women's stars saddened.

    "As a person, which is much more important than the tennis, she's a lovely person," reigning Olympic champion Andy Murray said.

    "I'm sure she [Clijsters] will be remembered as one of the best players over the last 15 or 20 years and also one of the best people "

    - Andy Murray

    "I'm sure she will be remembered as one of the best players over the last 15 or 20 years and also one of the best people."

    Reigning US Open men's champion Novak Djokovic was also confident that Clijsters will perform well in her final bow.

    "A great, very successful player. She's going to be missed," he said.

    "She's very popular around here. Hopefully she can make a great last US Open."

    Women's top seed Victoria Azarenka expects to see nothing less than Clijsters at her best.

    "To me personally she has been a great inspiration," Azarenka said.

    "She's a great role model. She's one of the people you always like to be around. She's definitely going to be one everybody is going to miss. I just wish her the best in her life. We'll definitely see the best of Kim here."

    SOURCE: AFP


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