Sunday 21 January 2018

Tennis: Clijsters finds feet in US Open defence

Phil Casey

Kim Clijsters survived a second-set slump to begin the defence of her US Open title with victory over Hungary's Greta Arn in the first round yesterday.

Clijsters charged through the opening set in just 18 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium, but fell 4-0 down in the second before rallying to complete a 6-0 7-5 win.

The second seed completed a remarkable return to the sport last year after previously retiring in 2007, beating Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki in the final at Flushing Meadows in only her 14th match and third tournament of what she likes to call her "second career".

"I was really looking forward to coming back here so it was nice to start off today and get the first match over with," Clijsters said.

"I started off well and maybe she was a little nervous and looking for her game. I had a bad service game in the beginning of the second set and lost my footing a bit and I'm just glad to finish the second set off and not let it go to three sets."

Clijsters had been suffering from an injury coming into the tournament but added: "The hip feels much better. It's holding up really good."

American Melanie Oudin had earlier opened proceedings on the same court with a 6-3 6-0 victory over Olga Savchuk of Ukraine.

Oudin, who reached the quarter-finals here last year as a 17-year-old, said: "It's a real honour to get to start the US Open off on 'Ashe'.

"I knew exactly when I was going to play, knew who I was going to play, which was really good. I thought I played a really solid match. I was really nervous in the beginning, but I think I got it out in the first set. In the second set I thought I played really well."

There were also easy wins for sixth seed Francesca Schiavone and 12th seed Elena Dementieva -- French Open champion Schiavone beating Ayumi Morita 6-1 6-0 and Dementieva seeing off Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-1 6-2.

Sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko began his bid for a first Grand Slam title with an easy victory in the first round of the men's tournament.

Davydenko beat American Michael Russell 6-4 6-1 6-3 to set up a second-round clash with France's Richard Gasquet, who enjoyed a similarly comfortable victory, beating Germany's Simon Greul 6-3 6-4 6-2.

Irish Independent

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