Two hours after the event, as Kim Clijsters and her entourage made their weary way out of Melbourne Park, she walked past some old friends and did not recognise them. It was as if what had just happened to the usually happy-go-lucky Belgian was something from another time and place.
The US Open champion, whose story of motherhood and sporting glory was one of the most heart-warming of any tennis era, was beaten 6-0, 6-1 by Nadia Petrova, of Russia, in the third round of the subsequent Grand-Slam and was lucky to have got that one game.
"I was completely off," Clijsters admitted. "I made all the mistakes and she didn't have to do much."
How ironic, in that Clijsters beat Justine Henin -- who has just returned to the game after an 18-month hiatus -- in the final of the Brisbane International two weeks earlier but it is Clijsters who has come such a cropper. Henin was in trouble too -- a set and 4-1 down to Alisa Kleybanova, of Russia -- but dug deep, rallied and reached the last 16, where she will meet Yanina Wickmayer, the third Belgian in a storyline that shows no sign of abating. (© The Times, London)