Australian Open 2011: 10 Reasons Kim Clijsters Can Win a 2nd-Straight Grand Slam

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2011

Australian Open 2011: 10 Reasons Kim Clijsters Can Win a 2nd-Straight Grand Slam

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    After winning the U.S. Open to finish her 2010 season, Kim Clijsters is looking to bag the fourth Grand Slam of her career by winning the 2011 Australian Open.

    Clijsters has made it to the finals in Melbourne before, way back in 2004, but she has yet to take home the trophy from this prestigious tournament.

    That fact is going to change at the conclusion of this year's edition of the Australian Open.

    Read on for 10 reasons why.  

No Serena Williams

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    One of Kim Clijsters' biggest competitors at the Australian Open would have been Serena Williams. 

    The American has after all won the tournament five times. It's been her most successful Grand Slam event even though she's taken home a total of eight trophies from the other three. 

    Williams was forced to withdraw from the field though as she continues to rehab her foot injury. 

    With the current No. 4 player in the world sidelined and watching the matches from the bleachers, Kim Clijsters' chances of winning rose dramatically. 

Weak Field

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    A lot of the top players in the world are relatively unestablished in the Grand Slam events. 

    Take for example the No. 1 seed, Caroline Wozniacki. She's incredibly talented, but she still plays too passively and has yet to win when it really counts. 

    No. 2 seeded Vera Zvonareva hasn't won a Grand Slam either. 

    In fact, excluding fifth-ranked Venus Williams, you have to go all the way to No. 13 in the rankings to find another woman who has won multiple Grand Slams. That woman is Justine Henin and she was eliminated from the tournament late Thursday night. 

Venus Is Hurt

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    One of the biggest threats to Kim Clijsters will be Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam winner. 

    Williams won a three-set match against Sandra Zahlavova, but when she twisted to hit a tough volley, she appeared to injure a muscle between her stomach and groin. It was an injury that left her both screaming and wincing for the rest of the match. 

    This injury is going to make it very difficult for Williams to make it all the way through the intense heat of the Australian Open. 

    As Freddy Mercury of Queen once sang, "Another one bites the dust."

    Maybe Clijsters should hope that Williams stays in the tournament for a while and hurts other players' eyes with her outfits. 

     

    Update: Venus Williams withdrew from the tournament on Friday morning. 

Motivation for First Title Down Under

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    Kim Clijsters has been playing professional tennis since 1997, but she has yet to hoist the winner's trophy at the end of the Australian Open. 

    Clijsters came tantalizingly close in 2004 when she lost to Justine Henin in the finals. She hasn't been back to that tournament-ending match since then. 

    With the exception of Wimbledon, the Australian Open is the Grand Slam which Clijsters has been least effective at. 

    She absolutely wants to change that and senses that this could be the year. 

Momentum

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    Kim Clijsters also has all the momentum in the world right now. 

    In her last Grand Slam, the 2010 U.S. Open, Clijsters beat Caroline Wozniacki in the finals for the second straight year to claim her third title in Flushing Meadows. 

    She was then named WTA Player of the Year for 2010. 

    Clijsters then defeated Wozniacki in an exhibition match to kick off the 2011 season. She lost her first true tournament of the year, falling to Li Na in the finals of the Medibank International Sydney. 

First Round

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    Former world No. 1 Dinara Safina was bewildered throughout her first round match with Kim Clijsters. 

    Clijsters just rocketed through this one, failing to drop a single game in her 6-0, 6-0 win. 

    It's hard to find any sort of fault with her game after that dominant of a performance. 

    There's really not much else to say. 

Second Round

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    Right after her dominant win against Safina, Kim Clijsters took on Carla Suarez Navarro in the second round of the Australian Open. 

    As was expected, Clijsters "struggled" slightly more, but note that the word struggled is in quotation marks. 

    The Belgian tennis player still won an easy two-set match, beating Navarro 6-1, 6-3. 

    With the win, she earned the right to play world No. 83 Alize Cornet in the third round. 

The Ease of the First Two Rounds

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    Sure, she may have had to stretch out like this a few times in the first two rounds, but Kim Clijsters still barely broke a sweat. 

    Her first-round match against Safina lasted a staggering 44 minutes and the second-round contest with Navarro lasted just 62 minutes. 

    All in all, she's been on the blue courts of Melbourne Park for less than two hours. 

    Clijsters is still just as fresh as she was when she stepped onto the court to warm up for her first match of the tournament. 

    In the blistering conditions of the Australian Open, this will prove to be invaluable as the tournament rolls along. 

Playing Some of the Best Tennis of Her Career

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    Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

    At 27 years old, Kim Clijsters has been around for quite some time, at least for a tennis player. Even so, she's playing some of the absolute best tennis of her career during her quest to regain her old ranking as the world's No. 1 female tennis player. 

    After her second-round match with Navarro, Clijsters said, "I really feel comfortable with the game I'm playing now." There's no reason she shouldn't as she's hitting all the shots she needs to with absolute ease. 

    Despite retiring to have a child just about three years ago, Clijsters is in peak physical condition. She claims that her fitness, power and serve are as good as they've ever been. 

    I believe it after watching her thus far. 

Experience

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    As stated on the previous slide, Kim Clijsters has been around for a long time. Her career lasted from 1997 until her retirement in May of 2007. But then she unretired in August of 2009 and has been playing great tennis ever since. 

    The experience that Clijsters has provides her an incredible benefit over other players in the field. 

    Then there's the fact that she's played in six Grand Slam finals, winning three of them. Not many other women left can say that. 

    Clijsters not only has the physical game to win this tournament, but she also has the mental fortitude and experience necessary to do so.