Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Clijsters double-bagles Dinara.
Third seed Kim Clijsters embarrassed former world number one Dinara Safina 6-0 6-0 in just 44 minutes to get her Australian Open campaign off to a flying start on Tuesday.
The US Open champion was in complete control throughout the lopsided first round encounter, barely raising a sweat as she swept the distraught Safina from the Rod Laver Arena.
Safina, Marat Safin's sister, was a runner-up at the Australian Open just two years ago but looked a shadow of her former self as Clijsters dominated every aspect of the game.
Earlier fifth seed Samantha Stosur led the Australian charged with a 6-1 6-1 demolition of young American Lauren David.
Alicia Molik also advanced through to the second round with a hard-fought come-from-behind win over Italian Roberta Vinci.
The first set in Clijsters' rout of Safina was over in a lightning 20 minutes and the second went by in just 24 as the Belgian underlined why she is firm favourite for the 2011 title.
Injury-hit Safina, who has now lost in the first round of her last two grand slams, is in danger of dropping out of the top 100 for the first time since 2002 as a result of the loss.
However Clijsters will be relieved to make amends for her own Australian Open humiliation when she was thrashed by Nadia Petrova 6-0 6-1 in the third round in 2010.
It was the fourth time Clijsters has whitewashed an opponent at the Australian Open, after "double bagels" in 2003, 2004 and 2007, but the first time against such illustrious opposition.
"I knew I had to be really focused and play the best I can," Clijsters said.
"I know Dinara didn't play at her best, but I just focused on my side of the net and didn't worry about what she was doing."
eanwhile Ana Ivanovic made a shock early exit from the Australian Open, beaten in the first round by Russian Ekaterina Makarova in three sets, 3-6 6-4 10-8.
The Serbian starlet looked on track for an easy win when she cruised through the first set, but from there on the Russian controlled the match as Ivanovic's mental frailties resurfaced.
Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion and a beaten finalist at Melbourne Park in the same year, showed her fighting qualities by saving five match points in a marathon third set.
However, she never gained the upper hand and the 22-year-old Makarova finally closed it out with a forehand winner to break serve in the 18th game of a 91-minute decider.
It was a disappointing result for Ivanovic, who finished 2010 in strong fashion, winning two of her last three tournaments on the back of an improved fitness level and looked set to climb back up the rankings this year.