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Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Another sunny day for Kim Clijsters

By Sandra Harwitt
Special to espnW

There aren't too many 29-year-old's out there planning their second retirement.

But that's just what Kim Clijsters is doing. The former No. 1 in the world is looking forward to moving on after the U.S. Open. But before she walks off into the sunset again, Clijsters has business to attend to throughout the summer.

Her first priority is performing well at this, her final Wimbledon.

Never one to dawdle, Clijsters scored a quick 6-3, 6-3 win over Andrea Hlavackova in the second round on Wednesday. After breaking the Czech's serve in the seventh game of the second set, Clijsters broke serve again -- a stinging forehand cross-court winner did the job -- at 30-40 in the final game to close out the match.

Clijsters
Playing in her final Wimbledon, Kim Clijsters made quick work of Andrea Hlavackova in the second round.

"I was very happy with the way everything went today," said the unseeded Clijsters, a four-time Grand Slam champion. "I felt it was another step upwards from my first match, against [Jelena] Jankovic. I was able to keep my level up throughout the whole match."

While Clijsters cruised, two top seeds took a tumble on a dank day that included the challenge of rain.

Fifth-seeded Samantha Stosur faced an ever-improving Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands. It was a topsy-turvy second-round match with the 72nd-ranked Rus finally prevailing 6-2, 0-6, 6-4.

And in an even more absorbing upset, seventh-seeded Caroline Wozniacki was taken out by Tamira Paszek of Austria 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-4 in a first-round match. Wozniacki held two match points at 15-40 on Paszek's serve in the 12th game of the second set, but the Austrian forced the set to a tiebreaker, and then came through in the third set.

While the match was entertaining, that wasn't of much of a consolation to Wozniacki.

"Yeah, it was a good match, good tennis, but that doesn't really help me," she said. "I lost in the first round. Tomorrow, no one will remember how great a match it was, they'll just remember who won."

Wozniacki's assessment may be a bit off base. Fans will likely remember she lost early, not that Paszek, hardly a household name, won. Even in the brief news conference, no one asked the 37th-ranked Paszek about upsetting Wozniacki. They asked her about being coached by former men's player Andrei Pavel.

As for Wozniacki, she continues to baffle tennis observers. The Dane's gone from being No. 1 as the season began to being on a continual downslide. Those who questioned her holding the top rank for more than a year without winning a Grand Slam title are probably feeling vindicated.

Wozniacki has lost in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, the third round at the French Open and, now, the first round at Wimbledon this season. But never one to be flustered, she said her unimpressive results are no reason for concern.

"You go through periods where it's just not going your way," Wozniacki said. "You just need to get through this. Hopefully, sooner than later it will start turning my way.

"I just need to move forward. You can't dwell in your past."

Rus, 21, had two match points on her serve in the ninth game of the third set, but nervously surrendered her serve to Stosur. The Australian, however, helped her out in the next game by squandering a 40-15 lead to lose her serve and the match.

"Before the match, I knew she was not a great grass player," said Rus, who also admitted that grass is not her favorite surface. "I believed before the match that I could win."

Stosur's defeat is Australia's heartache -- she was the last Australian standing in men's or women's singles. It is the first time in the Open Era that no player from the land Down Under has reached the third round at Wimbledon.

Despite her failure, Stosur bore no ill will toward Wimbledon, although her best result here was reaching the third round in 2009. That's probably a good strategy with the Olympics being played here next month.

"This year I hated it [the grass] a little bit less than the previous years," said Stosur, the reigning U.S. Open champion. "It's just disappointing because you want to do well here. It's a great tournament. I still love playing here at Wimbledon but, obviously, it hasn't been my very best tournament."

While Wozniacki and Stosur look toward the future, Clijsters is hoping her last few events, including her first visit to the Olympics, will provide lasting memories.

Clijsters initially walked away from the game a month before her 24th birthday in May 2007. She declared it a permanent decision at the time -- she had played since she was a teenager, won the 2005 U.S. Open and was still battling wrist injuries. Basically, she was ready for new life adventures.

As it turned out, her first retirement ended up being just a little more than a two-year hiatus from the game. That provided enough time enough for her to marry Brian Lynch, a former American basketball player in the Belgium league, and have her first child, daughter Jada, who turned 4 in February.

In 2009, Clijsters decided she missed the game, the competition and winning. She mounted a comeback the summer of 2009. In only the third tournament -- the U.S. Open -- she won her second career Grand Slam title. She became the first mother to win a Grand Slam since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won Wimbledon in 1980.

She went on to successfully defend her U.S. Open title in 2010 and won the 2011 Australian Open.