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Wednesday August 12, 2009

Clijsters makes winning start in comeback

CINCINNATI (Ohio): Former world number one Kim Clijsters made a triumphant return to tennis on Monday, defeating France’s Marion Bartoli in straight sets in her first match in more than two years.

Clijsters, who retired in May of 2007 and gave birth to a daughter in February of 2008, defeated 12th-seeded Bartoli 6-4, 6-3.

Flying start: Kim Clijsters celebrates after defeating Marion Bartoli during the first round of the Cincinnati Open on Monday. - AFP

“I’m really excited playing my first match,” said Clijsters, 26, who received a wild card into the draw of the tournament which has been bumped up to WTA premier status.

“I’ve been training since the start of February, and I’ve always been focused on Cincinnati. Winning my first match feels good.”

The ebullient Belgian advanced to a second-round clash against Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder, a 6-4, 6-0 winner over Argentina’s Gisela Dulko.

American Serena Williams, seeded second here behind world number one Dinara Safina, said she was impressed with Clijsters even before the Belgian hit a ball in anger.

“I look like I had a kid more than she does,” Williams said in a meet the press session Monday. “She looks amazing.”

Bartoli, who defeated Venus Williams to lift the title in Stanford on Sunday, admitted it was a tough first-round match-up.

“It was very difficult to expect anything,” she said. “I haven’t seen her in two years. That’s the reason I didn’t start well. I was trying to figure out what she was doing instead of playing my game.

“By the time I figured out her tactics, I was down 0-4. It’s just a really bad draw, I guess.”

Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic rallied after dropping the first set and shrugged off a rain delay of nearly two hours to beat American Melanie Oudin 2-6, 6-1, 6-1.       

Ninth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus beat Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).

German Anna-Lena Groenefeld downed France’s Virginie Razzano 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, while Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak beat Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-0, 6-3. Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko cruised past Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-2. — AFP

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