Sports Outside the Beltway

Comeback kids- Kim Clijsters defeats Justine Henin to win Brisbane Intl. title

It was a battle of two Belgians down under.AP-

Kim Clijsters hung on to win a momentum-swinging all-Belgian final at the Brisbane International in a vintage finish Saturday in Justine Henin’s tour comeback.Australia Brisbane International Tennis

Clijsters, only five tournaments into her own comeback which has already netted the U.S. Open title, saved two match points and then wasted three before winning 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6) over the seven-time Grand Slam titlist.

Clijsters started strongly and led by a set and 4-1 before Henin staged a dramatic rally.

Need the scores from any match played in today’s tournaments? Results

Henin, playing in the top tier for the first time since she quit while holding the No. 1 ranking in May 2008, won eight of the next nine games to take a 3-0 lead in the third.

Clijsters rallied to 3-3, then gave up a break and gave Henin match points in the 10th game.

She held her nerve and, 15 minutes later, held her arms in the air, celebrating what she thought was a championship-winning backhand down the line in the tiebreaker when the umpire overruled.

Henin got back to 6-6 in the tiebreaker but then double-faulted to give Clijsters a fourth match point. She made no mistake this time, with a forehand that Henin couldn’t get.

“Huh, what a match!” Clijsters told the crowd at Pat Rafter Arena. “I think we set the bar pretty high for ourselves for the rest of the year.

What a return for both these players. Clijsters left the game to get married and have a child. She then became the first mother to win a Grand Slam event in almost 30 years at last year’s U.S. Open. Hennin is much earlier in the comeback process but on the way to the Brisbane finals she defeated both the #2 and #3 seeds in the tournament.

Clijster’s daughter and husband were in the crowd on Saturday, when she donated her tournament winnings to Brisbane’s Royal Children’s Hospital, which she had visited earlier in the week.

A very nice gesture by Clijster. One I’m sure will ingratiate her with Australians, whether they like tennis or not.

Update- Henin has suffered a leg injury which has caused her to withdraw from a tournament to be played in Sydney next week. No word as of yet if this will keep her from playing in the Australian Open slated to begin January 11th.

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