Thursday, May 26, 2011
Kim Clijsters upset in second round
ESPN.com news services
PARIS -- After wasting two match points in the second set and feeling her confidence fading, Kim Clijsters let the match slip away Thursday at the French Open.
The two-time French Open runner-up, seeded second at this year's tournament, lost to 114th-ranked Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Garber: Stunning Turn Of Events
Things had not been going well for Kim Clijsters lately. And her Paris unraveling did not help, writes ESPN.com's Greg Garber. Story
"I started doubting a little bit," said Clijsters, playing her second match since a right ankle injury knocked her out of action. "When you start doubting yourself on any surface, but for me definitely on clay, it's the wrong attitude to have."
Maria Sharapova also struggled, but the seventh-seeded Russian won 11 straight games after trailing 4-1 in the second set and beat 17-year-old Caroline Garcia of France 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.
Clijsters, who had won her past 15 Grand Slam matches after taking the titles at last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open, failed to convert either match point in the second set.
Playing with her right ankle taped, the Belgian made 65 unforced errors and lost 11 of the final 12 games. Rus finished with 22 unforced errors and had eight winners in the entire match.
"My ankle feels fine, so that has absolutely nothing to do with it," Clijsters said. "If I felt like I wasn't ready as much as I would have liked to be, I wouldn't have come here. If I wasn't feeling like I was able to play tough matches, then I wouldn't have made that decision to come here."
Clijsters had her first chance to close out the match against the Dutchwoman when leading 5-2 in the second set, but Rus saved the match point and held to make it 5-3 before breaking Clijsters to get back on serve.
"When I was 5-2 down in the second set, I was thinking, 'Just go for it and play more aggressive,'" Rus said. "And, yeah, that really helped.
"At 6-5 I had a really good serve game, and then I won the set. Then I was thinking, 'Yeah, I can win this match,'" she said.
Clijsters then had another match point in the 10th game, but Rus saved it again and eventually pushed the score to 5-5.
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With the momentum shifting, Clijsters double-faulted for the seventh time -- one of her 28 unforced errors in the set -- to allow Rus to break and serve out the second set.
"She obviously started building up more confidence, started playing a lot better and was really kind of putting me on my back foot all the time. I couldn't really play my aggressive tennis anymore in that third set," Clijsters said.
Clijsters injured her right ankle while dancing at her cousin's wedding in April, sidelining her until the French Open. She last played at Roland Garros in 2006, when she reached the semifinals.
But since returning to the tour in 2009 following the birth of her daughter, Clijsters has won three of her four Grand Slam titles.
Rus, the 2008 Australian Open junior champion, reached the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.
Garcia, who was playing in only her second tournament, led 4-1 in the second set. But Sharapova then took control and won every game after that.
"I just never think that the match is over until it actually is," Sharapova said. "I think that no matter what situation you're put in, no matter how good or bad you feel, you've got to finish the match.
"More than anything I was just trying to be more consistent," she said.
Sharapova won the Italian Open on May 15, the biggest clay-court title of her career. She has not won the French Open, the only Grand Slam title not on her resume.
"It could have easily gone the other way today, but I think I knew I had to make an adjustment," Sharapova said. "More than anything, I felt like I really stepped up. And that was needed if I wanted to win this match."
Garcia is a rising star on the French tennis scene. She reached the second round at the Australian Open in January in her tour-level debut.
The French Open is only her second tournament, and she again got through the first round.
Against Sharapova, she played much of the match with her confidence high, finding every corner of the court and placing her shots just out of her opponent's reach.
Need the scores and stats from today's matches at the French Open? Courtcast
"I was not giving any points to her, and I was very accurate," Garcia said. "And I was hitting hard in areas she doesn't like because she's tall, so it's difficult for her."
Garcia's stellar play early in the match has already drawn praise from one her fellow players, Australian Open finalist Andy Murray.
"Girl sharapova is playing is going to be No.1 in world one day caroline garcia, what a player u heard it here 1st," the fourth-seeded Murray tweeted.
Sharapova couldn't really disagree.
"It's a long road and a long journey," said the 24-year-old Russian. "There will be many wins and many losses. It's tough for me to tell, but she's on her way up, definitely."
In other results, Vania King of the United States came back to edge Elena Baltacha of Britain 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
The 115th-ranked King is in the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for only the second time in 20 tries.
She and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who won Wednesday, are the first women other than Venus and Serena Williams to make it this far at Roland Garros since 2006.
No. 4 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, No. 6 Li Na, No. 9 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, No. 12 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, No. 15 Andrea Petkovic of Germany, No. 21 Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, No. 25 Maria Kirilenko of Russia and No. 30 Roberta Vinci of Italy also advanced to the third round, while No. 27 Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania lost.
Li beat Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain 6-4, 7-5, and Kvitova defeated two-time Grand Slam semifinalist Zheng Jie of China 6-4, 6-1.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.