Kim Cruises In Opener
Published June 21, 2010 12:00
LONDON, England - It didn't take much longer than an hour for the first big name to make a winning start to her Wimbledon campaign on Monday, as Kim Clijsters smacked 20 winners to power through to the second round.
Clijsters, the No.8 seed and a two-time semifinalist at the grass court major, had double bageled Maria Elena Camerin in their only prior match, and this time it wasn't too different, as she blew through the first set in 24 minutes and eventually closed the feisty Italian out handily in 65 minutes, 60 63.
"It's hard to describe," Clijsters said on returning to Wimbledon after four years. "I was excited. I was nervous. You can probably compare it to your first day of school after a holiday. It's excitement, curiosity, a lot of emotions."
It has been a patchy last few months for Clijsters. After an impressive victory in Miami, she lost early in Marbella then, after one match in Fed Cup, had to sit out for almost two months due to a foot injury - missing Roland Garros - before finally returning at Eastbourne last week. She was in strong form in Eastbourne, though, reaching the quarterfinals before falling to Victoria Azarenka.
"It was frustrating because I felt I was playing well," Clijsters said. "I was finally in a routine where I started to play more tournaments, and I was looking forward to play the clay court season. I didn't know if I'd even make it to Wimbledon. I'm relieved I was able to come back in Eastbourne last week.
"There were times I thought, 'Oh man, here we go again with these injuries. Was this all worth it?' But it's good now. Nothing to worry about."
Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam where Clijsters hasn't made it to the final - she reached final fours in 2003 (losing to Venus Williams) and 2006 (losing to Justine Henin). This is her first time playing here since that 2006 loss (she spent 2007, 2008 and 2009 in retirement, while having her first child).
Next for Clijsters is Karolina Sprem, who recorded a 64 63 win over qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Clijsters is 5-0 lifetime against Sprem and has never been pushed past 6-3 in any of their 10 sets, but Sprem has done well here before - she was a quarterfinalist in 2004. She is a former Top 20 player.