SONY ERICSSON OPEN
Clijsters Shakes Off Slow Start
by Peter Holehan|
Two-time Sony Ericsson Open champion Kim Clijsters battled back after a slow start to rally past Aussie Jarmila Gajdosova 4-6, 6-1, and 6-0 in a first round match of the women’s main draw.
Clijsters, unseeded for the first time in Miami since 2005, advances to play No. 14 Julia Goerges of Germany.
The No. 37 ranked Belgian is one of five former champions in the Miami field this year along with Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Victoria Azarenka.
She was playing in her first event since reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open in January. She withdrew from Indian Wells with a left ankle injury.
Clijsters, 28, showed no ill effects of a bothersome ankle. Her range of mobility was free on her sideward motions and she was able to move up on the net without any complications. She stayed in command by winning 64 percent of her first serves. A telling moment came during the match when the four-time Grand Slam champion charged a Gajdosova drop shot.
“It’s definitely a lot better,” said Clijsters, who estimated that her ankle feels about 95 percent healthy. “I’ve been working to try to make it strong and feel comfortable moving wise.”
Clijsters added that she still needs to put tape on her ankle for support and will likely need a couple more months of usage to accommodate the full stretches and movements that she makes over the course of a match.
On Clijsters’ mind was how well she’d be able to find her rhythm. She mentioned it four times during her 10-minute post-match interview.
“It’s always tough to get match rhythm under your belt,” said Clijsters, who is one of 13 players in the Open Era to win 40 singles titles. “I’ve been practicing for a few days here now. So those were my first outdoor practices. You just have to get used to the conditions. When it comes down to my game, I felt that I wasn’t quite going through my shots as well as I should have. I was trying to find that rhythm. As I started to feel more comfortable, I was hitting the ball better and it shown in the second and third sets.”
In her nine appearances, she’s won titles in 2005 and 2010, has advanced to the semifinals (2003) and has twice reached the quarterfinals (2002, 2011).
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