Australian Open 2012: Kim Clijsters Has Look of Defending Champion

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJanuary 25, 2012

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 24:  Kim Clijsters of Belgium celebrates winning her quarter final match against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during day nine of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 24, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Vivek Prakash-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

There were questions about Kim Clijsters heading into the 2012 Australian Open as she attempted to come back from a left hip injury sustained in Brisbane.

Those questions have been answered by the defending champ.

All Clijsters has done this tournament is streak into the semifinals, disposing of Li Na and world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki along the way.

After winning the first set against Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, Clijsters received some resistance in the second set, as Wozniacki battled back. But Clijsters' baseline game was just too dominant on Tuesday in Melbourne. She refused to lose a set.

Not only has the Belgian overwhelmed some of her opponents this year, she's fighting back with a tenacity that defines "champion." It's one of the reasons she won in Melbourne last year, outlasting Na after losing the first set, 3-6.

It's also one of the reasons Clijsters will win this year.

Don't forget that Clijsters fought back after twisting her ankle against Na in the fourth round this year. She may not be a dominant women's player, but she makes up for it with a solid baseline game and a mental resolve that is hard to beat. This is also her last season on the circuit, as she announced she would be retiring sometime this year. The crowd certainly seemed to take note of that on Tuesday, cheering for her throughout the match.

Clijsters has the mental makeup, game and momentum to blow through third-seeded Victoria Azarenka on Thursday in Melbourne. She entered the season with doubts, but the only doubts left are how much she'll win by as she cruises to her second straight Australian Open title.

 

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