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Mauresmo Denies Clijsters Farewell Win in Antwerp Diamond
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Kim Clijsters' hopes of saying farewell to the Belgian public with a victory were smashed as France's Amelie Mauresmo beat the 23-year-old Belgian 6-4, 7-6 on Sunday to claim the title of the Antwerp Diamond tournament.

Clijsters plans to end her professional career at the end of this season. She is getting married to American basketball player Brian Lynch. The Diamond tournament was her last competition on Belgian soil, making the past week her farewell tour to the Belgian public.

Kim was impressed by the circumstances in the final and made too many unforced errors. Although stakes were high for Amelie Mauresmo too, as a third triumph after back-to-back victories in 2005 and 2006 would earn her the coveted diamond racket, the Frenchwoman resisted the pressure.

The match between the world's number 3 and 4 was controlled by Mauresmo. Clijsters took Mauresmo to a tiebreak in the second set, but Mauresmo went 4/1 ahead before taking it 7/4, despite the crowd questioning a line call which had earned her two match points.

Mauresmo feels "a bit awkward" Amelie Mauresmo deserved the win and was very humble after the match.

"I feel a bit awkward, as this should have been Kim Clijsters' day. I understand that everyone is a bit disappointed and that you really wanted to see Kim triumph. Sorry about that," she told the 15,000 sell-out crowd.

Amelie Mauresmo is only the second player to get hold of the diamond-studded racket, after Ivan Lendl who won the men's ECC event three times last century.

Mauresmo is the first female player to win the trophy, after a failed attempt by Venus Williams.

The racket contains hundreds of shining diamonds and is worth an estimated one million euros.

"I don't know what to do with the trophy. Journalists did nothing but to ask me about the diamond racket this week. I told them I wasn't thinking about it, but in fact I was," she said.

"I am not sure what I am going to do with it. But I won't just walk out of the Sports Palace with the racket under my arm, that's for sure," she added.

Kim Clijsters did her best to choke the tears on an emotional afternoon.

"I played my most memorable matches here in Antwerp. Your support when I was injured meant more to me than any title," she said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 19, 2007)

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