September 10, 2010 / 10:48 PM / 8 years ago

Clijsters overcomes Williams to reach final

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Defending champion Kim Clijsters raised her game with her back to the wall and took advantage of a tiebreaker meltdown by Venus Williams to score a 4-6 7-6 6-4 victory Friday and reach the U.S. Open final.

Kim Clijsters of Belgium hits a return to Venus Williams of the U.S. during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Clijsters, who also won the 2005 U.S. Open on her favorite grand slam surface, booked a Saturday night date against seventh-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva by registering her 20th successive match victory at Flushing Meadows.

Zvonareva, runner-up this season at Wimbledon, reached her second successive grand slam final by ousting top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-4 6-3.

Williams overwhelmed Clijsters in the opening set, using a dominant serve and her vaunted volleying skill to take charge. The 30-year-old American, like Clijsters a two-time U.S. Open champion, lost only five points on serve in the set.

The second-seeded Belgian battled back, raising her effort and scurrying across the baseline to reach the American’s hard-hit groundstrokes and unleash winners.

Venus Williams of the U.S. awaits the serve by Kim Clijsters of Belgium during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

“I just tried to make the points and whenever I felt I had the opportunity to step up and accelerate a little bit, I tried to keep the pressure on her,” Clijsters, 27, said.

Clijsters and the third-seeded Williams exchanged breaks early in the second set before the Belgian broke in the sixth game to lead 4-2.

Serving for the set at 5-3, it was the Belgian’s turn to play a string of loose points that brought it back on serve and set up a tiebreaker.

Williams, who had been so effective from the service line, suddenly lost her way, serving back-to-back double faults and losing every one of her four serves to drop the decider 7-2.

After another exchange of breaks in the third set, Clijsters cracked through the Williams service again for a 5-4 lead, answering a deep volley with a brilliant backhand topspin lob that left the American staggering toward the baseline.

A sizzling backhand winner up the line ended it in the next game for Clijsters, who thrust her arms in the air in triumph.

Slideshow (5 Images)

“I’m glad she made a few double faults in the tiebreaker there,” said a relieved Clijsters. “It was a great match to play. Conditions weren’t easy but I think we played some high level tennis. It was a fun night.”

Editing by Steve Ginsburg

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