* First woman to defend U.S. Open title since 2001
* Most one-sided U.S. final in 34 years
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK, Sept 11 Belgium's Kim Clijsters won
her second straight U.S. Open women's title on Saturday after
crushing seventh-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-1 in the
most lopsided triumph in 34 years.
The second-seeded Clijsters hit 17 winners while making
just 15 unforced errors against a nervous Zvonareva to match
the three games lost by American Chris Evert in her 6-3 6-0
demolition of Australian Evonne Goolagong in 1976.
Clijsters, 27, extended her Flushing Meadows match-winning
streak to 21 in a row, having also won the title in 2005 before
missing a year due to injury and two more to start a family.
"It's been an incredible year, being back in the Open and
for the first time I'm able to defend my title," Clijsters said
at the trophy ceremony.
Last year her infant daughter Jada came on court to cavort
around the shiny silver trophy after Clijsters struck a blow
for working mothers everywhere with a grand slam victory in
just her third tournament back from her hiatus.
Saturday, curly-haired Jada looked on from the stands,
sucking a lollipop as her mom made quick work of Zvonareva.
Clijsters cruised through the first set in 27 minutes after
twice breaking Zvonareva's serve. The Russian, appearing in her
first final at Flushing Meadows, gifted Clijsters a break in
the sixth game with a double fault and three unforced errors.
Then Clijsters wrapped up the set with a service break when
Zvonareva slapped a backhand into the net.
Another double fault by the Russian, who was also runner-up
at Wimbledon this season, in the sixth game of the second set
put Clijsters up by two breaks and she quickly ended the
59-minute match with a forehand winner in the next game.
It was the quickest women's final since officials started
keeping track of match times in 1980.
"Kim just played tremendously well today. She deserved to
win," said the Russian, who burst into tears at the end of the
match, undone by the Belgian's bullet groundstrokes and by her
own 24 unforced errors.
Clijsters, the first woman to defend her title at Flushing
Meadows since Venus Williams in 2001, tried to console
Zvonareva after the match.
"A little bit of experience definitely helps. She has
improved so much," said Clijsters, who lost her first four slam
finals before beginning her U.S. open run of success.
"Vera just keep it going, it will happen."
Clijsters pocketed $2.2 million for her efforts. In
addition to the $1.7 million winner's prize she received a
$500,000 bonus for finishing second in the U.S. Open Series of
tournaments leading up to the grand slam event.
(Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Frank Pingue; To query or
comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)