China’s Li Na upstaged favourite Kim Clijsters to claim the Sydney International title in straight sets.

It was an impressive display from the eighth seed, who trailed 5-0 in the first set before steadying to secure a 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 victory in blustery conditions on Ken Rosewall Arena. Li, who had previously beaten Clijsters once in five meetings, out-gunned the out-of-sorts world number three from the back of the court to post her fourth career title. It was an uncharacteristic performance from the Belgian, producing 27 unforced errors and seven double faults to squander a blistering start to the match. Li was staring down the barrel at 5-0 down after 18 minutes, but last year’s Australian Open semi finalist made the most of her reprieve to draw level at 5-5. Both players held their next service games to send the bizarre opening set into a tie-break. Clijsters took an early 3-1 lead but her game again deserted her as she lost six consecutive points to surrender the set.

The US Open champion struggled to cope with the windy conditions, dropping her first service game of the second set after producing her sixth double fault of the match. In a rare show of frustration, Clijsters slammed the ball into the court after conceding the break. She was able to get back on serve immediately, only to concede another break to trail 4-1. Li survived a scare in the seventh game as Clijsters made one desperate bid to get back in the match, but the 28-year-old held firm to seal the biggest victory of her career in just under 90 minutes.


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