Stanford: July 23-29

July 30, 2006 04:53 PM
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Kim Clijsters won her fourth Bank of the West Classic title in six years Sunday, effortlessly beating Patty Schnyder 6-4, 6-2 to stay unbeaten in this event since 2002.

Clijsters overwhelmed her Swiss opponent with sharp serves, then ran her ragged with back-and-forth groundstrokes to win her 32nd career title and her second this season, following a victory in Warsaw in May.

The well-heeled crowd at the tournament on Stanford's campus cheered loudly for its local favorite. Clijsters won the tournament in 2001 and 2003, missed the event with an injury one year later -- and then repeated her title last year, beating Venus Williams.

"It's amazing," Clijsters said. "It doesn't matter how bad I've been playing before. When I come here, everything seems to fit like a puzzle."

Clijsters, the world No. 2, advanced only to the semifinals in all three Grand Slam events this season, losing to fellow Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne at the French Open and Wimbledon. Though her troublesome back is acting up again, Clijsters hopes to get back in form during the five tournaments leading up to the U.S. Open.

"This is a perfect start, and I'm not complaining," she said.

Clijsters never gave Schnyder much of a chance, breaking her opponent in the third game and efficiently winning her own service games. She broke Schnyder twice in the second set, then essentially finished it off with a lively rally at 4-1, pouncing on Schnyder's drop shot with a running backhand winner.

Schnyder, the world's eighth-ranked player and a semifinalist here last season, made three straight unforced errors in the final game. Clijsters finished with an ace.

"Patty is a tough player, and it's not easy to play a left-handed player like her," Clijsters said. "In the beginning, you have to adjust and you have to be ready to move."

Stanford loves Clijsters, and she loves the tournament right back. In addition to appearing in promotional events, she also was spotted tooling around Palo Alto on a Vespa scooter with Sebastien Bourdais, the French Champ Car driver in town for the San Jose Grand Prix.

 

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