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Mauresmo Wins Diamond Games Racket

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AP
Amelie Mauresmo won enough diamonds to last a lifetime. Kim Clijsters will have to do with golden memories. Mauresmo won a $1.3 million diamond-studded racket trophy Sunday, beating Kim Clijsters 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the final of the Diamond Games tournament.

The victory spoiled Clijsters' farewell home match before a frenetic crowd of 14,500 at the Sports Palace. The 23-year-old Belgian has said she will retire at the end of the season.

"I too am a bit disappointed, because everyone wanted Kim to win. Sorry," Mauresmo said to the sellout crowd of 14,500 at the Sports Palace.

The 8.8-pound gold racket trophy studded with 1,702 diamonds was for the first player to win three titles in any five-year span, and after victories in 2005 and last year, the Frenchwoman was bent on winning again.

"I said all week I didn't think about it, but honestly I thought about it the whole week," Mauresmo said.

The world's third-ranked player was much more enterprising with her moves to the net while Clijsters, fourth in the rankings, never got her serve working.

"The important point is to play your best against the best," Mauresmo said.

Mauresmo got her match point on a disputed ace, turning her celebrations afterward into a muted affair, accompanied by the boos of the crowd. Clijsters came over to give her a hug at the end and replays showed the point appeared to be good.

"There is no better champion than you. I admire you in so many ways," Clijsters said.

Clijsters cried when local crooners Clouseau serenaded her career, which included a U.S. Open title in 2005, a No. 1 ranking in 2003 and several Grand Slam near misses. Her schedule beyond Wimbledon is unclear _ except that she will marry American basketball player Brian Lynch.

"I am yearning for my wedding day," Clijsters said.

Mauresmo has won her last five matches against Clijsters, including last year's Diamond Games final. Despite the incessant cheers for the Belgian, Mauresmo quickly took a 4-2 lead with her blend of top spin drives, frequent rushes to the net and lethal volleys.

Clijsters was again hampered by a rusty first serve she could never quite overcome. It was a hopeless chase which even had the crowd subdued at the end of the first set. Mauresmo mixed her backcourt game with play at the net that often left Clijsters dumbfounded.

With a strong serve, Mauresmo won her first set point after 47 minutes, and pumped her fist in celebration, knowing the racket was only one set away.

Clijsters had the momentum in the second set, winning a love game and then breaking Mauresmo's serve.

But Clijsters didn't take advantage, giving away the next game when she sent a simple forehand volley wide.

The two then held serve to set up a tiebreaker. Mauresmo raced to a 4-1 lead, but Clijsters fought back to 4-4 before falling victim again to unforced errors.

Earlier this year, Mauresmo had been troubled by a leg injury and her agility in the backcourt suffered. She was eliminated in the fourth round of the Australian Open and reached only the semifinals of the Gaz de France Open in Paris last week.

But after struggling in her first match in Antwerp, Mauresmo has recaptured her blend of power and speed that she showed in 2006.

Clijsters also had problems, missing two weeks because of hip problems and the flu before this tournament.