A Battle Of Wills: Venus Williams to Face Defending Champion Kim Clijsters

Michael CasentiCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2010

Venus Williams is Featured in the Battle of the Wills
Venus Williams is Featured in the Battle of the WillsChris McGrath/Getty Images

When Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters battle each other, there is always no stopping their willpower, especially on hard court.  And there is not greater stage of concrete than the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Arthur Ashe has the "it" factor, if it can be said of a non-living object.  The fans are always hungry for some real tennis, and the match up pitting Venus Williams against Kim Clijsters will counter the people's appetites.

We have seen our fair share of dramatic matches, Verdasco, Clijsters, and Wawrinka, to name a few. But the monotonous demolitions of players have piled up, with spectators drooping to sleep and texting their friends.  

All of the tedious matches will come to an end on the women's side though, and prepare for the Battle of Wills.

Kim Clijsters is the defending champion here.  In fact, Clijsters has reached the semifinals at Queens the last four times she has played under the lights of New York, including this year.  

And what makes it ominous for the elder Williams, and gives some more hope to Clijsters, is the fact that Clijsters defeated Williams en route to her two Grand Slams at Flushing Meadows.  

But those two matches weren't pounding victories delivered by Clijsters, but three-set tussles with unceasing drama.

The first the time the two played at the US Open was in 2001, in the quarterfinals. Williams demolished the then up-and-coming Clijsters 6-3, 6-1.  In 2005, the two face each other again in the quarterfinals.  

Venus Williams obviously had the home crowd, but the ever-amiable Clijsters had her share of supporters and cheers.  Clijsters came back from down 6-4, 4-2, to complete the dramatic comeback 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Then last year, Clijsters claimed another victory of the lanky Williams with a see saw, momentum swinging, 6-0, 0-6, 6-4 match.

Venus Williams, the 30-year-old veteran, has had her successes against Clijsters, but never in front of the crowd of her home grand slam.

Will Venus Williams be a third time lucky?  The history of her past matches is not swinging in Williams's favor.  At one point in their careers, Venus Williams was leading the pair's head to head 6-2.  

Ever since, Clijsters has caught on, winning 4 straight matches to even the rivalry 6 apiece, including a lopsided victory, allowing Williams only three games the entire match.

There is no reason, however, that Williams cannot come into the match with high expectations.  After all, her last name is Williams.  A Williams never gives up.

The 6-foot-1 Williams has the backing of majority of the crowd, but the main focus point is her serve and groundstrokes, especially her flat forehand.  

Venus Williams may be able to deliver a serve up to 130 mph, but that does not prevent her from hitting 9 double faults in a match.  

In order for her to win against the incredibly fast Clijsters, Williams must have her serve one, and get most of her first serves into play.  If Williams finds herself playing a second serve, she should try to go for accuracy more than brute force.

The second thing to watch out for is the forehand.  Often times it is either on or off. Against Clijsters earlier in Miami this year, Williams was spraying forehand unforced errors all over the place.  In order to win, Williams cannot allow that to happen.

Clijsters must-do's are similar to Williams'.  Against the number 5 seeded Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals, Clijsters committed a few too many errors against the Aussie, and double-faulted on too many occasions.

Although the experienced Clijsters was able to sneak out the win, Williams must be licking her chops after the uninspiring performance by Clijsters.

Another aspect of Clijsters' game that she needs to focus on is her speed.  Kim Clijsters is as fast as any counter puncher, but power and amazing shot selection come with her game, too.  

Even being a half-step slower will harm Clijsters. After all, how many people can compete with the power of Venus Williams?

Most everyone is expecting a tight match.  That's just a 'yes' when the two tennis giants Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters collide.

Now all we have to wait for is the better player to step up her game. Whether we see Williams or Clijsters celebrating after the match, a "tough match" would be considered an understatement.  

For me, the match is 50-50, as nothing separates these two titans.  Will the defending champ prevail? Or will Venus Williams end Kim Clijsters' 19-match winning streak at the US Open?

Alas, we have only (only?) one day to be able to watch the Battle of Wills, whether online or in person.  Just one thing to know:  nothing and no one will be able to stop Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters, except, of course, themselves.


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