Li beats Clijsters in Sydney International final

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Sydney, Jan 14 (AP) Li Na of China won her fourth careerWTA title today, overcoming a 5-0 deficit in the first set tobeat third-seeded Kim Clijsters 7-6 (3), 6-3 in the SydneyInternational final.

Clijsters jumped out to an early lead, but the U.S. Openchampion from Belgium collapsed in that set and played poorlyin the second.

Before Friday, Clijsters had won 27 of her previous 30matches, collecting a third US Open title and the 2010year-end championship.

The 27-year-old Clijster''s three defeats since Wimbledonlast July had all come at the hands of Vera Zvonareva, theRussian who Clijsters would have displaced as thesecond-ranked player with a victory over Li.

Instead, Clijsters''s serve and forehand completelydeserted her when she seemed certain to land her third titlein Sydney and 41st of her career. She had 27 unforced errorsand lost 13 of the last 17 games.

"We''ve had some really tough battles in the past,"Clijsters said. "I didn''t played my best tonight, but she didand she deserved to win."

Earlier, Gilles Simon of France won all but three pointsin the second set to defeat third-seeded Ernests Gulbis ofLatvia 7-6 (1), 6-0 and advance to the men''s final, where hewill face Viktor Troicki of Serbia. The fourth-seeded Troickidefeated Florian Mayer of Germany 6-4, 7-6 (4) at SydneyOlympic Park.

"OK, I made three points. Bad luck," Gulbis said.

"Next time I will make four."

Simon, who battled a knee injury for six months of 2010and slipped to No. 41 from a career-high No. 6, was pleasedwith more court time.

"I know on the court I can play three hours even if it''s40 degrees (Celsius) outside," Simon said. "I know that if thematch is difficult, if we have to run, fight on every point,at the end it''s good for me."

Simon has won all four of his matches against Troicki.

(AP) AT

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