New world number one Kim Clijsters refused to blame a slight neck injury for a 6-4 6-3 defeat by Czech fourth seed Petra Kvitova in the Paris Open final on Sunday.
Top seed Clijsters, who retained her US Open title in September and won the Australian Open last month before helping Belgium into the Fed Cup last four, secured her place as the new number one by reaching the semifinals at the Stade Coubertin.
However, her winning streak came to a sudden halt as the tall, ponytailed Kvitova took her third career title thanks to sheer power and superb returns on the fast hardcourt.
“It’s nice to win today against Kim because she is world number one, I think it’s my biggest achievement,” Kvitova, 20, said in a courtside interview.
“It’s not logical, I lost my last two matches against Kim so I’m glad I won today.”
Clijsters had come back from adversity in the previous rounds of the $618,000 tournament, now run by former French world number one Amelie Mauresmo, but she had no answer to the Czech world number 18.
“I’m not surprised. I know she can play like that,” Clijsters said. “I had a little bit of a neck problem but it’s not an excuse. She deserved to win.”
As French tennis officials were deciding just up the road that the French Open should stay at a renovated Roland Garros, Kvitova was instead intent on overturning the status quo.
She broke Clijsters in the first game, thanks to a lucky netcord, only for the Belgian to break back immediately with a superb backhand down the line.
Clijsters began to get her serve working but she could do nothing to stop Kvitova’s flashing return to break again and go 3-2 up before securing the set when Clijsters netted.
The favourite settled more into her rhythm in the second set but sent an easy volley into the net to be broken in the seventh game and Kvitova, one of the best returners on the circuit and a name to watch, sealed the title with another break.
An emotional Kvitova said she had lost her grandfather just last week while Clijsters has decided not to spend Valentine’s Day in Paris because her young daughter needs to be back at school in Belgium on Monday.
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