Clijsters wins Miami title
Kim Clijsters emulated the feat of Steffi Graf nine seasons ago, by capturing the Miami title on Sunday to add to the Indian Wells crown won a fortnight ago. The Belgian, playing her third tournament since returning from a wrist injury, defeated Maria Sha
The victory, Clijsters 23rd on the WTA Tour, ensures she will rank 17th in the world standing on Monday. Only four weeks ago she was ranked 133rd.
Sharapova had been looking to become the sixth youngest woman to rank number two with the Florida hard-court title.
Clijsters is the first unseeded women's champion at the Miami Open and, at 38 in the world, the lowest-ranked woman to win the title.
With windy conditions throughout the 92-minute title match, Clijsters and Sharapova found it difficult to adjust.
The pair exchanged breaks of serve before rain sent the players back to the locker-room.
"Overall I didn't think it was the best match because of that. I didn't take my chances when I had them. Those are the chances I still need to learn to take. I was a little bit sloppy."
Having spent one-hour off-court, Clijsters returned to break 17-year-old Sharapova on a second point to take a 3-1 lead.
Clijsters broke again in the sixth game and battled back from double break point down at 5-3 to close out a 43-minute first set.
During the mid-set interval further rain began to fall, heralding the arrival of referee Alan Mills: the bane of Wimbledon players and spectators each summer.
The Belgian broke in the fifth and seventh games with terrific scrambling from well behind the baseline.
Sharapova forced her way back into the match for 5-5, but dropped her serve for a fifth time before Clijsters sealed the title on a third championship point.
Former world number one Clijsters missed most of last year but has been beaten only once since returning to the WTA Tour in Antwerp in February.
She has won her last 14 matches since defeat, to Venus Williams , in the Antwerp quarter-finals.
"She [Clijsters] has a great personality and it's always great to have someone around like that, but she's also a great competitor on the court, which this game needs," said Sharapova.
Sharapova will remain as world number three, behind world number one Lindsay Davenport and Amelie Mauresmo.