Tennis: Clijsters ends career with shock loss

Triple US Open champion Kim Clijsters's career came to a disappointing and lacklustre end today when she slumped to a shock second-round defeat to British teenager Laura Robson.

Clijsters, the former world No.1 and four-time Grand Slam title winner, lost 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) to the 18-year-old world No.89, who goes on to face China's ninth seed Li Na for a place in the last 16.

Clijsters, who was also the 2011 Australian Open winner, was on a 22-match winning streak in New York.

But she had always insisted that the 2012 US Open would be her last tournament as she intended to retire for a second time to spend more time with her four-year-old daughter Jada and husband Brian, who was watching on Wednesday.

Robson, at 18, is the youngest player in the top 100 and has now reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time. She was just five when Clijsters made her New York debut back in 1999.

"It was my dream coming true when I won here in 2005. I was always inspired and played some of my greatest matches here," said an emotional Clijsters, the champion in 2005, 2009 and 2010.

"It's the perfect place to retire. I wish it wasn't today but there's no doubt that if I could pick a tournament to play my last singles match then this would be it.

"Laura played very well. I fought but it wasn't good enough."

Clijsters, who returned to the WTA Tour in 2009 after retiring for the first time, said she had no regrets over a career which also took her to No.1 in the world.

"It's been a great adventure for my team and my family. It was all worth it but now I look forward to the next part of my life.

"When I came back in 2009, it was crazy. I hadn't picked up a tennis racquet for two years and my dad had died. So when I won in 2009, it was a real emotional roller-coaster. It was hard to take it all in."

Robson's sensational victory will be a footnote in the Clijsters story despite her stirring performance.

The former Wimbledon junior champion survived a 10-minute assault on her serve in the 12th game of the opening set and then battled back from 2-5 down in the tie-breaker.

She went an early break down in the second set to get level at 2-2 before the 29-year-old Clijsters fought off two break points in the sixth game.

Clijsters saved two match points at 5-6 down, the second with her fifth ace of the tie, to send the set into another breaker.

But Robson set up a third match point with a pinpoint down the line forehand and took her famous victory when Clijsters batted a backhand long and out.

"I knew I would have to work my butt off if I was going to win," said Robson.

"Thanks to Kim who has been a great role model. I grew up watching her. It was a great pleasure to play you."

- AFP

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