Kim Clijsters came back from one set – and four match points – down against China’s Li Na in the Australian Open 2012 Ladies Singles Fourth Round to record a remarkable 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 victory, and book a place in the Quarter-Final.
Belgian ace, Clijsters, the holding Australian Open Women’s Champion, who is also affectionately known as “Aussie Kim” had looked to be limping out of the tournament after turning her ankle in just the sixth game of the opening set. Clijsters immediately called for the trainer who heavily strapped the ankle, and gave her anti-inflammatory medicine.
But Clijsters could not hold onto the first set, and went a set behind to a 6-4 scoreline.
After battling through the pain in the second set, Li earned herself four match points in the tie-breaker by racing away to a 6-2 lead, but, somehow, Clijsters upped her game, and dug deep, to win six points in succession and take the match to a third, decisive, set.
In the final set, Clijsters got on top of Li, and quickly took two breaks, before the Chinese star rallied to claim one back. But it was to be too little, too late, as Clijsters sealed the amazing comeback by taking the third and final set 6-4 in front of a packed house.
Clijsters, 28, has already told of her intention to retire at the end of this season: if she does, this will be a great memory of a Melbourne already packed with highlights for the Belgian.
After the match, Clijsters explained how she carried on despite injury:
“I thought, ‘I don’t want to quit on my last time at the Australian Open’.”
“I just kept fighting.”
For Li, who broke down in tears in the post-match press conference, this match may well take some time to get over, having come so close to the point required for victory. Her Grand Slam opportunity will come again in future, she simply met an immovable object in Clijsters in 2012.