Kim Finds Her Feet On Clay
Published April 07, 2010 12:00
MARBELLA, Spain - Fresh off her second Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title of the year on the hardcourts of Miami, Kim Clijsters made a successful transition to clay of Marbella on Wednesday, grinding out her first match of the Andalucía Tennis Experience in three sets against Romania's Alexandra Dulgheru.
Clijsters, who accepted a wildcard into the International event and is seeded No.3, rallied from 2-4 to win the first set, 6-4, then gave away a one break lead and lost a tie-break to see her opponent even it at a set apiece. But the former No.1 rebounded to take the third set and the match, 64 67(1) 62.
"I haven't played a match on clay for three years so it was a nice experience," Clijsters said. "Mentally it's a completely different game. It takes time. I want to get that feeling back as quickly as possible and there's no better practice than playing matches, so I'm thrilled to be here. Hopefully I can keep it up."
Clijsters said Tournament Director and former player Conchita Martínez asked her if she would play the tournament during her Miami run: "I had never been here and so many players have said it's a beautiful tournament. As soon as I was done in Miami, a few hours later, we flew over. It has been really fun so far. I want to get as much preparation as possible - obviously the French Open is the main goal, so the more matches I get here, the better."
Flavia Pennetta, the No.2 seed, also played her first round match, fresh off winning the doubles title in Miami. The Italian cruised past Yaroslava Shvedova in 67 minutes, 63 61. Other first round winners were Spaniards Laura Pous Tio and Beatriz García Vidagany, both qualifiers into the draw.
The first two second round matches were also played, with No.4 seed Aravane Rezai falling to Tatjana Malek, 64 62, but No.5 seed María José Martínez Sánchez faring better, cruising past Italy's Alberta Brianti, 60 62.
The top-seeded team of Klaudia Jans and Vladimira Uhlirova was ousted in the doubles quarterfinals by Polish duo Marta Domachowska and Alicja Rosolska in a match tie-break, 26 64 119. Jans and Uhlirova had double match point at 9-7 in the breaker but lost four straight points and the match.