It wasn’t suppose to go that down that way but it did. US Open champion Kim Clijsters had dominated her opponent, Nadia Petrova, in four prior meetings, but it wasn’t the mama Kim’s night. In a full-out assault, Petrova unleashed hell on Clijsters burying the Belgian 6-0, 6-1 in the third round of the Australian Open.
“I was completely off,” Clijsters said following the 52-minute match. “Just, you know, I think tennis-wise, I didn’t feel the ball at all. You know, on the other hand, you know, she was good.
“I made all the mistakes and she didn’t really have to do much. She served really well and was aggressive in the rallies, but that’s because I let her play into the courts. Just because I wasn’t feeling the ball well. It sucks.”
Petrova, who had won just one set of nine in her four prior meetings with Clijsters, was more than pleased with her performance..
“I played very well,” Petrova said. “I didn’t give her chance for her to start playing her game. I really put pressure from the first point, you know. I stayed close to the line. I was really observing her pace. Also, you know, coming up with the big shots. You know, I made very difficult for her. She had to come up with something unbelievable.”
The one game Clijsters won was the fewest of her career. The loss also ended her 9-match Grand Slam win streak dating back to her US Open title run.
Justine Henin was a bit more fortunate. The former Australian Open champion was on the verge of being sent out by Russian Alisa Kleybanova who was up a set and a break on the Henin before faltering 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
After an impressive win Wednesday night over World No. 5 Elena Dementieva, Henin figured to have an easy road against the big-hitting Kleybanova.
“I’m happy I’m in the fourth round,” said Henin. “I kind of survived a little bit today.But, no, it’s always good to win this kind of match because I came back from nowhere. It was so difficult for me after last match. Physically I suffered a little bit in the last two days. I wasn’t feeling the energy enough to be able to compete at my level.”
Henin now faces another Belgian, Yanina Wickmayer, in the fourth round on Sunday.
Also in third round action on Friday, Jie Zheng earned a second straight trip to the Australian Open fourth round after a 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 win over (11) Marion Bartoli. Former No. 1 and 8-seed Jelena Jankovic was upset by the hot-handed (31) Alona Bondarenko 6-2, 6-3. The Ukranian Bondarenko had lost all nine meetings with Jankovic until Friday. Bondarenko has won eight straight matches including her Hobart title run.
Second-seeded Dinara Safina quietly rolled over Britain’s Elena Baltacha 6-1, 6-2. The 2009 Australian Open finalist now earns a date with fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko, a 7-5, 7-6(4) victor over Roberta “Da” Vinci “Code”.
Reigning French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova is on at night against Angelique Kerber.
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