DOHA, October 31- Kim Clijsters followed her defence of the US Open title with a display of great resilience to recapture the WTA Championships title after an interval of seven years here on Sunday.
Clijsters, 27, powered her way to a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win over world number one Caroline Wozniacki, despite not having competed at all during the seven weeks since her US Open success because of a foot operation.
The Belgian also had to recover from the disappointment of seeing the 20-year-old Dane come back from a set and 1-4 down to take the match to an enthralling decider.
"I am very relieved it is over," said Clijsters after her two-hour 20-minute victory, "because it seemed it would never end."
"It was a very tough battle, and I think it was a fine advert for women’s tennis. I’m glad I won but I don’t know how many more years I will play, and I think Caroline has a great future ahead of her."
Clijsters succeeded because she had the more naturally forceful game, remained unfazed by the ups and downs of an unpredictably long drawn out battle, and played some of her best tennis in the final stages.
Asked if she were surprised to have won the title without having competed for seven weeks, Clijsters said: "In my first career I wouldn’t have been able to do," referring to the days before the birth of her daughter Jada.
"But now I know myself better. I have had plenty of practice, so I already have a match rhythm a little bit, and I try to adjust as fast as possible after I got here."
It was a disappointment for Wozniacki because she had wanted to answer those detractors who questioned her status as the world’s number one because she has not yet won a Grand Slam title.
This title would have been the next best thing, though there were moments when it looked within her reach, and she did suggest – with her tactical adaptability, and tremendous court coverage – that she has the capacity eventually to win it.
"It was still a fantastic week for me," said Wozniacki, who achieved the year end top spot with her second win of the week here. "I would love to come back here, and I would love to try for this title again."
Wozniacki had to find ways to counter Clijsters’ heavier game, sometimes by coming to the net more often; also by seeking more angles to keep Clijsters moving.
It made for good rallies and longer games. It was after one very long game that Clijsters broke to win the first set, gaining some momentum to break again early in the second.
But with defeat looming Wozniacki appeared to relax, hitting more freely, breaking back for 3-4 and remarkably breaking again to level the match.
She also broke back in the final set, levelling at 2-2 after an early setback. But it was her last real surge.
Wozniacki unaccountably stopped a rally and called for a Hawkeye replay, only to get her call wrong. When she also delivered a double fault two points later, it helped Clijsters make the break for 4-2 which decided the match.
There was one last flurry when Clijsters slipped to 15-40 before closing it out.
Clijsters agreed that winning this title as a mum is arguably a greater achievement than winning a Grand Slam, which is only a two weeks effort.
But she also made it clear that: "I don’t look at myself as a tennis-playing mom." Instead she said: "It’s my life again now and it’s what I deal with."