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Clijsters broke twice to take the first set, and she did it by letting Zvonareva cause her own problems. Clijsters needed only four winners in that set, because Zvonareva made 13 unforced errors, including dumping a backhand into the net on the last point.

After that mistake, Zvonareva told a ballkid to get out of the way, so she could take a practice swing on her backhand side.

Didn’t work.

When Zvonareva failed to get to a backhand and fell behind 40-love in the opening game of the second set, she cracked her racket against the court twice, breaking it, and earning a warning from the chair umpire.

“I was trying to find a way to pump myself up, to change something up,” Zvonareva explained later.

But things only got worse for Zvonareva, known for losing her temper during matches.

She yelled at herself after two unforced errors in the second game of that set, and proceeded to double-fault to get broken at love and trail 2-0. All things considered, it was nothing compared to the tantrum Zvonareva threw in her fourth-round loss at last year’s U.S. Open, when she wasted six match points. She bawled. She pounded her palm on her leg while sitting on the court. She slammed her racket against her leg. She begged the chair umpire to let her have some scissors so she could cut tape off her knees.

Zvonareva seemed to be much better at harnessing her emotions of late, perhaps thanks in part to her habit of placing a towel over her head during changeovers to block out distractions. That worked wonders at Wimbledon this summer, and for nearly two weeks at the U.S. Open.

But Clijsters never gave her a chance to get into this match. It was so lopsided, CBS analyst John McEnroe felt compelled to tell viewers early in the second set: “This might be the most I’ve ever wanted Kim Clijsters to lose serve. She’s such a great person, but this is difficult to watch right now.”

It wouldn’t get any better from Zvonareva’s perspective.

She never had made it past the fourth round at the U.S. Open before, but she won all 12 sets she played to get to the final, including during her upset of No. 1-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals.

About a half-hour before the final, Zvonareva and her coach, Sergey Demekhin, were alone on a patio outside the stadium, warming up with some stretching and hand-eye-coordination exercises. For a few minutes, Zvonareva made like a circus performer and juggled three tennis balls.

Once out on the court with Clijsters, though, one ball was more than Zvonareva could handle.

Her victory complete, Clijsters picked up Jada, cradling her in the crook of her left elbow, while holding the U.S. Open trophy in her right hand as photographers snapped away.

Moments later, after being plopped in a chair by Mom, Jada pointed to the nearby cameras and said, “No photos.”

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