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Clijsters stuns Sharapova

September 10, 2005 04:36 IST
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Belgium's Kim Clijsters earned another crack at claiming her first Grand Slam singles title by beating top-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 on Friday to reach the U.S. Open women's final.

The fourth-seeded Clijsters, four times a Grand Slam runner-up, will meet 12th seed Mary Pierce in Saturday's showpiece.

Pierce became the first Frenchwoman to reach the U.S. Open final by overcoming sixth-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 earlier on Friday.

"It's amazing. I just said 'go for your shots' and it worked," Clijsters said after clinching victory on her sixth match point when Sharapova dumped a forehand into the net.

The 22-year-old Clijsters, who has won six titles in 2005, failed to convert on five match points in the 12th game of the second set against the tenacious Sharapova, and the 18-year-old Russian forced a third set by winning the tiebreak 7-4.

Clijsters shrugged off that disappointment and broke Sharapova in her first two service games of the third set on the way to seizing a commanding 4-0 lead.

Sharapova was hurt by an inconsistent serve that produced seven double faults, many coming at most inopportune times.


Sharapova lost all four of her service games in the first set, winning just five points on serve and yielding the last game of the set on a double fault.

It was Clijsters' fourth win without a defeat against Sharapova, including a straight-sets win over the Russian in the final in Miami earlier this year.

Clijsters, who lost in the 2003 U.S. Open final to compatriot Justine Henin-Hardenne, has an added incentive in this Open final.

By virtue of winning the U.S. Open series with the best record in hard court tournaments this summer, the Belgian will be paid double her U.S. Open winnings -- bringing her a record payday of $2.2 million should she win the top prize.

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