Clijsters wins Rogers Cup

August 21, 2005 05:00 PM
TORONTO (AP) -- Kim Clijsters got a big boost heading into the U.S. Open, defeating Justine Henin-Hardenne 7-5, 6-1 Sunday in an all-Belgian final at the Rogers Cup.

Clijsters made another strong showing on hardcourts. She has won five of her WTA-leading six titles in 2005 on the surface, and will try to capture her first Grand Slam championship at the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 29.

The final between two of the world's best players added some intrigue to a tournament hit by injuries -- five of the top eight seeded players, including Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, withdrew. But Clijsters outplayed her opponent from the start.

In the doubles final, 48-year-old Martina Navratilova and Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany rallied past Spaniards Conchita Martinez and Virginia Ruano Pascual 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.

Henin-Hardenne, seeded fourth, and Clijsters, seeded seventh, recently returned from long layoffs -- Clijsters from a career-threatening wrist injury and Henin-Hardenne from an energy-sapping virus.

Clijsters was buoyed by the number of Belgians in the stands.

"I think I can speak for Justine, too,'' she said. "No matter where we go there is always a lot of Belgian flags in the crowd supporting us.''

The players had to deal with strong wind, but the match was played under mostly sunny skies following a thunderstorm Friday and a cloudy Saturday.

Henin-Hardenne couldn't find her rhythm, struggling with her serve and spraying balls long, wide and even into the crowd. The four-time Grand Slam winner didn't hit a winner until the seventh game of the first set when she broke Clijsters to tie it 4-4. Clijsters soon broke back to take the set.

Henin-Hardenne double-faulted on break point to give Clijsters a 3-1 lead in the second set. The rest of the set belonged to Clijsters.

"For me, this is my first time here in Toronto in this the new stadium,'' Clijsters said. "This is great. We're very lucky to be playing in a stadium like this.''