Saturday, January 22, 2011
Clijsters takes down birthday girl!
Great players find a way to win, even when they're not having their best day on the court. And that's just what third seed Kim Clijsters did today.
The Belgian scrapped and grinded her way to an unconvincing 7-6(3) 6-3 win over world No.83 Alize Cornet at Rod Laver Arena.
"You never play a whole tournament playing your best tennis. And you have to also, you know, work for it. I think that's what I had to do today," said Clijsters after the match.
Birthday girl Cornet would have been hoping for a gift from the likeable Clijsters, but it was the Frenchwoman who dropped serve, gifting Clijsters the opening game of the match, a start Cornet was not happy with.
"I think I could have played way better and she could have played way better, as well," she said. "I cannot say I'm so disappointed, but I have some regrets because I think I could have done better in the first set, and I think I didn't believe enough in myself, so that's just a shame."
Early on, Clijsters looked as if she was going to sweep Cornet aside and race into the fourth round in double time. But after opening up a 3-1 lead, Clijsters's crown slipped a little as she started to miss, regularly.
The break back came in the sixth game as a pumped up Cornet levelled the set. Not to be outdone, Clijsters broke straight back to reclaim her advantage.
Clijsters's usually reliable serve wasn't up to scratch today - six double faults for the match too many from a player many believe will pick up her first Australian Open title in a week's time.
Serving for the set at 5-4, some loose play from the Belgian kept Cornet's hopes of an upset alive. A forehand volley into the net from Clijsters giving Cornet a sniff, and not long after the Frenchwoman had the break back.
Inevitably the set ended in a tiebreak, with Clijsters coming out on top - too many errors from Cornet's racquet as the more experienced Clijsters kept her cool under pressure.
Clijsters had to wait for the fourth game to get the break after Cornet hit a forehand long.
From there it was too hard for Cornet to come back, the 21-year-old tired as Clijsters did enough to chalk up the win. The Frenchwoman also spent a surprising amount of time on the ground; anyone wondering what to buy the Frenchwoman for her birthday would be well advised to get her some new shoes.
Clijsters will only take a few positives from this match - the main one being she found a way to win despite not being at the top of her game. 41 unforced errors from Clijsters, compared with 25 from Cornet, was too many.
"I felt that I was building my points pretty well when I was in charge, but a couple times missed easier volleys, [I] felt that I could have maybe hit a drive volley and finished off the points a little bit sooner," said Clijsters.
The Belgian breathed a sigh of relief after the win but said she'll be having a serious practice session on Sunday morning to iron out the wrinkles that were evident in her game today in preparation for her fourth-round date with unseeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova, who upset 13th-seeded countrywoman Nadia Petrova.
"Tomorrow out on the practice court I'm going to try to hit a lot of balls, try to get that feel for it again, move better. Just little things that keep that rhythm or get the rhythm to where I want it to be."