Justine Wins, Kim Looms
Published June 23, 2010 12:00
LONDON, England - Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin took a step closer to an all-Belgian fourth round match at Wimbledon on Wednesday, both winning second round matches - though one far easier than the other.
Henin, the No.17 seed and a two-time finalist at The Championships, was the first of the pair to advance, beating Kristina Barrois in a tight finish, 63 75. Henin was leading by a double break at 63 51 when Barrois rallied, eventually evening the second set, 5-all. But Henin broke again and served it out.
"It was good until 63 51. My intensity dropped," Henin said. "I reacted well to it, though. It had happened to me a lot in the past, but I have experience. And everything else was positive. I was serving well today, so that was really good."
Henin against Barrois was the first match of the ladies' draw to feature two players with one-handed backhands. It was their second encounter in as many weeks, with Henin beating Barrois last week, 75 63, en route to winning 's-Hertogenbosch, her fourth career grass court title (only Venus Williams has more grass titles with five - and all five of those coming at Wimbledon).
Clijsters, the No.8 seed, had beaten Karolina Sprem handily in the pair's four previous meetings, and that trend continued as Clijsters powered past the Croatian former Top 20 player comprehensively in 73 minutes, 63 62.
Both Clijsters and Henin came out of retirement over the last year and have found their form again, Clijsters winning three titles (including her second major at last year's US Open) and Henin winning two titles (and coming close to her eighth major at this year's Australian Open, reaching the final).
The Belgians are one win away from a fourth round clash here, which would be their 25th career meeting. They are tied overall, 12-12, but since coming back Clijsters is 2-0 (although both of those wins came in a third set tie-break).
"I haven't really thought about playing Justine yet," Clijsters said. "Until I'm in that position, I can't really think or focus on that. I have my mixed doubles tomorrow, then I'll play Kirilenko. That's my next focus."
Next up for Henin will be No.12 seed Nadia Petrova, while Clijsters will face No.27 seed Maria Kirilenko. Henin is 13-2 lifetime against Petrova, winning their last five matches in straight sets; Clijsters is 2-0 lifetime against Kirilenko, winning both of their previous matches handily.
Before play even started Wednesday, the first third round berth was given out, as No.11 seed Marion Bartoli received a second round walkover from Petra Martic (Martic withdrew on Tuesday night with an abdominal strain).