Doha, 2 November 2010 | AAP
Kim Clijsters is positioned for a Melbourne Park takeover of Caroline Wozniacki’s world No.1 ranking after upstaging the Dane in the final of the WTA Championship.
The Belgian’s 6-3 5-7 6-3 victory in Doha has piled the pressure on Wozniacki to validate her rankings supremacy with a maiden Grand-Slam triumph at the Australian Open in January.
The youngest woman since Martina Hingis a decade ago to perch atop the summit at season’s end, 20-year-old Wozniacki said the last-up loss shouldn’t detract from her outstanding 2010 – and certainly wouldn’t leave any psychologically scarring.
“I’m still No.1 at the end of the year, so it doesn’t have any effects,” Wozniacki said.
“I’ve had a fantastic year. I won six tournaments; I’ve beaten so many good players.
“You know, you cannot win every match. I’ve made the finals of the Championships and I lost one match today. I cannot do anything about it now.
“I will come back in the off-season and train, but right now I’m proud of my season. I’m happy about how I’ve been playing. I’m going to enjoy some time off.”
As she should because the young Scandanavian will be feeling the heat in more ways than one during the Australian summer.
After landing her fifth title of the year in Doha, Clijsters can climb above both world No.2 Vera Zvonareva and Wozniacki to seize top spot if she wins the Australian Open and Wozniacki fails to reach the semifinals.
Clijsters nominated the Open – and specifically her preference for Melbourne’s Plexicushion hard courts – as an obvious opportunity to collect a fourth Grand Slam trophy from the moment she grabbed her third in New York in September.
Now she has added momentum heading to Melbourne after joining tennis greats Martina Navratilova (8), Steffi Graf (5), Chris Evert (4) and Monica Seles (3) to have snared three or more season-ending crowns.
The 27-year-old picked up her first two in Los Angeles when she went back-to-back in 2002-03.
Clijsters’s latest triumph earned her a 40th career title plus a cheque for USD$1.45 million (AUD$1.48 million), taking her all-time prize money tally to USD$21,431,916.
“It’s been a good week for me,” Clijsters said. “I’ve enjoyed it.”
Apart from Saturday, of course, when the Belgian escaped shaken but otherwise unscathed from a car crash before her semifinal win over Australian Samantha Stosur.
Clijsters and Wozniacki will face off in a friendly exhibition match in Thailand after Christmas, but then it’s all business as they and the rest of the world’s elite players hone their games for the Melbourne Grand Slam starting on January 17.