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Serena Is Simply Too Much for Clijsters

From Associated Press

From the start Thursday, Serena Williams had Kim Clijsters on the defensive, sliding at the baseline in vain attempts to retrieve overpowering shots.

In the end, all the third-seeded Clijsters could do was join the applause for Williams. The world’s No. 1 player advanced to the final of the Nasdaq-100 Open and remained unbeaten in 2003 by winning, 6-4, 6-2.

Williams’ opponent Saturday will be the winner of the semifinal between sixth-seeded Jennifer Capriati and 12th-seeded Chanda Rubin. Rain forced the postponement of that match until today.

Clijsters led Williams, 5-1, in the third set of their semifinal at the Australian Open before losing, but this time she failed to muster much of a challenge.

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For Clijsters and the rest of the WTA tour, the discouraging reality is that Williams can play less than her best and still easily beat a top opponent.

Williams exceeded her quota with 37 unforced errors, including a handful of wild shots, and lost one point when she stumbled and fell to the court face first.

“I’m not too happy with the way I played,” she said. “My serve wasn’t there at all. My returns were miserable.”

Williams played an especially sloppy game to make it 4-4 in the first set, committing four unforced errors. From there she won 15 of the next 18 points and six consecutive games to take control.

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Williams improved to 16-0 this year. She hasn’t lost since November, when Clijsters beat her at the season-ending WTA Championships at Staples Center.

In the men’s draw, ninth-seeded Albert Costa was two points from victory when rain forced the suspension of his quarterfinal against fourth-seeded Roger Federer.

Costa erased two match points and rallied to go ahead, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-5, with Federer serving at deuce, when the rain stopped play.


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