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Li Upsets 2-time Champion Clijsters to Take Sydney Title

China's Li Na upset two-time champion Kim Clijsters to win the Sydney International title and her fourth career WTA crown on Friday.

Eighth seed Li recovered from going behind 0-5 in the opening set to rally for a convincing 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 victory in 1hr 30min.

It was her second WTA title in Australia after winning the Gold Coast event in 2008 and last year she was a surprise semi-finalist at the Australian Open.

Li, 28, will stay at her 11th ranking despite the win, while Clijsters missed the chance to move up from number three to two in the rankings ahead of Russian Vera Zvonareva.

It was Li's second victory in six encounters with US Open champion Clijsters and her first win over the Belgian in three matches at the Sydney tournament.

Clijsters, 27, who won in Sydney in 2003 and 2007, had been a perfect 13-0 in semi-final and final matches since her return to tennis in August 2009 as Li pulled off the boilover.

It capped a magnificent week for Li after she eliminated two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in the quarter-finals, Serbian Bojana Jovanovski in the semis and Australian Anastasia Rodionova and French qualifier Virginie Razzano in the earlier rounds.

Li became the first Chinese player to break into the world top 10 rankings after reaching the last four at last year's Australian Open.

Clijsters raced to a 5-0 lead after two service breaks, but as quick as that took, Li hit back stringing together the next six games.

The Belgian mother again broke out to a 3-1 lead in the tiebreak, but Li reeled her in when Clijsters' forehand gave up four errors to hand the opening set to the Chinese star in 48 minutes.

Clijsters' normally reliable forehand was going off and she served three double-faults in the ninth game to signal a change in momentum.

A sign of her mounting frustration, Clijsters angrily slammed a ball into the court after she was broken in the second game of the second set by Li.

But the Belgian pulled back the service break in the following game, but Li broke Clijsters' serve a fourth time to lead 3-1.

Li fought off a break point and held a clutch serve to 5-2 to be only one game away from victory.

Li raced to three match points on serve and took the championship on her second match point.

Source: Agence France Presse


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