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Clijsters tops Schiavone to earn Gaz de France title

HASSELT, Belgium -- Kim Clijsters won before a home crowd
for her ninth title this year, defeating Italy's Francesca
Schiavone 6-2, 6-3 Sunday in the Gaz de France Stars final.
The top-seeded Clijsters, who missed much of last season because
of a wrist injury, did not lose a set all week. In beating her
third-seeded opponent, she won her 30th career title.
Clijsters, the U.S. Open champion, lost her opening serve but
recovered quickly and was never troubled again.
"She is a great athlete and a great champion," said Schiavone,
who reached her third final of the year and will advance to a
career-high No. 14 ranking. She has yet to win a WTA tournament.
Clijsters, ranked No. 2, will be among the favorites at the WTA
Tour Championship, which begins in Los Angeles next week.
"I won't be the only one in shape there," she said, referring
to top-ranked Lindsay Davenport. "Lindsay has been great, too. It
is the last tournament for everyone in the top eight and they all
will give it their best."
Clijsters was ranked 134th in March when she was struggling to
recover from wrist surgery the year before. This season she has won
nine of 16 tournaments, most among WTA players this year. The
Belgian said the long layoff, which forced her to rest her fearsome
double-fisted backhand, gave her time to fine-tune the rest of her
game.
"Since the injury, I was able to work on my forehand and my
service and it has paid off," she said. "I feel great now."