/ Tennis

Kim Clijsters determined to end career on a high

Updated: Saturday, 25 Aug 2012 21:10 | Comments

Kim Clijsters is excited ahead of her final US Open
Kim Clijsters is excited ahead of her final US Open

Kim Clijsters is determined to go out with a final flourish as she bids farewell to tennis at the US Open.

The Belgian announced earlier this year she would retire for good after the final grand slam of the season in New York, where she has won three of her four major titles.

Flushing Meadows is a special place for Clijsters, who took two-and-a-half years out of a game in 2007 to start a family and then marked her comeback by winning a second US Open title.

She successfully defended her crown in 2010 and, after missing last year's tournament through injury, insists a title-winning finale is not an impossibility.

The 29-year-old said: "I'm obviously very excited to be back here after not being able to participate last year.

"This place is magical for me. I have had so many beautiful memories. I have enjoyed coming here from when I was a junior.

"I love the surface, I love the atmosphere, and I'm excited."

She added: I'm not really thinking about retiring yet. I'm still focusing on trying to be in the best shape that I can be. When I start on Monday, I want to be playing well.

"My mindset is not any different. I haven't played many matches or many tournaments this year. I really believe that physically I can do it.

"I have trained very hard for the last year to try and stay in good shape. I feel that I'm probably in maybe the best shape that I have been in."

Clijsters is a hugely popular figure who will be much missed by the sport and by her fellow players.

Defending US Open champion Sam Stosur said: "It's going to be a loss for the tour, and she's obviously been a great player and a great champion, and a great role model to a lot of people.

"I guess for her she's decided it's time. I can imagine this is the perfect place for her to stop given the success she's had here in the past."

Serena Williams added: "She's had such a fabulous career, especially here at the Open. She just brings some special tennis. She's always so bright and has such a positiveness about her that you can't help but wish her the best."

Stosur stunned Williams to lift her first grand slam trophy 12 months ago, but she goes into this year's tournament again as an outsider having failed to build on that result.

The world number seven reached the semi-finals of the French Open but she lost in the first round at the Australian Open and the second round at Wimbledon and is yet to win a title this season.

Stosur said: "Of course I would wish I would've done better for the first part of this year, but everything goes the way it goes for whatever reason.

"Obviously the Aussie Open and Wimbledon were quite disappointing. The French was good. I think I have done everything I can to try to get those good results.

"Hopefully it just means it's a matter of time before it really starts happening again. I'm playing well. You just have to put it together at the right time."

Although Williams is a hot favourite to make it back-to-back grand slam titles after her Wimbledon and Olympics success, it remains a period of transition for the women's game.

The last seven grand slams have seen seven different winners, but Stosur believes that is a sign of strength not weakness.

She added: "I think we're in this period of time on the women's tour where there's not one dominant standout player. It doesn't mean everyone is rubbish.

"I think we're all very competitive and everyone is playing extremely well. We're just finding that certain players are finding their time at these big events."

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use