Clijsters Wobbles to Opening Win at French Open

Posted on May 30, 2006

No. 2 seed Kim Clijsters, if she keeps good on her vow to suddenly retire after the 2007 season to end the wear and tear on her body, has two chances, including this year, to add the Roland Garros title to her roomy Grand Slam mantle that only contains only one trophy, that from her 2005 US Open championship.

Clijsters reached her first Roland Garros final in 2001, losing to Jennifer Capriati, and in 2003 falling to Justine Henin-Hardenne in the championship.

The Belgian began her 2006 campaign Monday with a strong start and a shaky ending in a 6-0, 7-6(4) win over France's Virginie Razzano.

"It was tough today, especially with the wind," said Clijsters, with clay her least-liked surface. "I did not think about it at all in the first set, but then in the second I started to miss a couple of shots. I played more safe and was not impressive anymore...Here I am trying to find my game...Clay has always been tougher for me and that's a challenge because I don't feel comfortable. I have no expectations but I will do my best."

Other seeded winners Monday were (6) Elena Dementieva (d. Sucha), (7) Patty Schnyder (d. Krajicek), (8) Svetlana Kuznetsova (d. Granville, bagel in the second), (9) Francesca Schiavone (d. A.Bondarenko), (11) Venus Williams (d. Bammer), (16) Nicole Vaidisova (d. Domachowska), (17) Flavia Pennetta (d. Mattek), (21) Nathalie Dechy (d. French countrywoman Foretz in three), (24) Katarina Srebotnik (d. Smashnova in three), (27) Anna Chakvetadze (d. (Q) Birnerova), and (29) Sofia Arvidsson (d. Vento-Kabchi).

"Definitely not playing as well as I'm capable but definitely moving up," said Williams of her straight-set performance. "Just playing solid. Really mentally pretty good. Sometimes I lose a bit of clarity. That comes with a few more matches."

Orchestrating upsets were resurgent Croat Karolina Sprem who brutalized (18) Elena Likhovtseva 1-and-1, and Romanian qualifier Anda Perianu who straight-setted (28) Lucie Safarova.

Seventeen players advanced into the second round in all-unseeded matches in the Ukraine's Viktoriya Kutuzova (d. King) and qualifier Julia Vakulenko (d. Meng), Finland's Emma Laine (d. (WC) Fedossova from a set down), China's Li Na (d. Frazier 6-1 in the third), Peng Shuai (d. Vesnina) and Sun Tiantian (d. Bychkova), Spain's Conchita Martinez Granados (d. Diaz-Oliva 6-1 in the third), American Ashley Harkleroad (d. Kostanic in three), Colombian Catalina Castano (d. Nakamura 6-1 in the third), Serb Jelena Jankovic (d. Pous Tio), Slovak Jarmila Gajdosova (d. (WC) Cohen-Aloro in three), Russian Vera Dushevina (d. countrywoman Rodionova), French qualifier Aravane Rezai (d. (Q) Brianti), Belgian lucky loser Kirsten Flipkens (d. (Q) Pichet), German Martina Muller (d. Vierin who retired in the third with heat illness), Czech Hana Sromova (d. Vinci), and Aussie wildcard Alicia Molik (d. Ant.Serra Zanetti).

"It's been a long, long time. I got that one under my belt and it's fantastic for my confidence," said Molik, sidelined for six months with an inner ear infection. "I'd written the year off. In January I wasn't feeling fantastic and gave myself to the summer 2007 to recover. I think that took the pressure off."

Highlights of Tuesday's play are (12) Hingis vs. Raymond, defending champ (5) Henin-Hardenne vs. Ani, former champ (10) Myskina vs. struggling Indian princess Sania Mirza, (23) Tatiana "Hot Pants" Golovin vs. Zheng, (19) Ivanovic vs. Stosur, (10) Kirilenko vs. Bremond, the hot-handed (3) Petrova vs. Morigami, the equally hot-handed (31) Peer vs. Savchuk, and (30) Klara "Kouky" Koukalova vs. Garbin.