A few weeks back, Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli beat former No. 1s Jelena Jankovic and Venus Williams en route to the title at the WTA event in Stanford. Which on Monday night in Cincinnati made former No. 1 Kim Clijsters’ comeback all the more impressive when the Belgian straight-setted the Frenchwoman 6-4, 6-3.
It was the first WTA match in over two years for Clijsters, who retired injured and battered and ready to start a family, having her first child with basketball-playing husband Brian Lynch.
Clijsters jumped out to a 4-0 lead before Bartoli tied it up, then the Belgian took charge.
“I was really excited to be out there,” Clijsters said. “It has been so long I’ve been practicing for this. To finally be here, it was exciting. It was nice to be back out there and going through the whole match preparations and routines again. I am excited I will be playing another match, that it’s not over after my first one.”
Bartoli was the No. 12 seed, while Clijsters needed a wildcard to get into the event.
“Without playing a match for two years, it is pretty amazing the level she already has right now,” Bartoli said. “Before she retired, her forehand was weaker than her backhand; today I think it was the opposite. When I put her wide on the forehand she was coming up with some amazing shots. But the way she was moving and hitting, it’s just amazing.”
Clijsters will next face Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder, who beat Gisela Dulko 6-4, 6-0. Clijsters is 5-2 career against Schnyder.
“We all miss her on the tour,” Schnyder said of Clijsters. “She has always been a fan favorite and great for the sport. I really hope she enjoys it again and stays with us for a while. I didn’t see her too happy at the end when she decided to take the break, and now I see her happy again. That’s all that matters. If you have so much success you can choose which life you want to live…now she’s back.”
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