Henin Beats Petrova, Clijsters Next
Published June 25, 2010 12:00
LONDON, England - In the third round of her last Grand Slam she suffered the worst loss of her professional career. But on Friday it was nothing like Australia, as Kim Clijsters cruised past Maria Kirilenko, 63 63, to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon - with longtime rival and compatriot Justine Henin next.
At the Aussie Open, Clijsters lost to Nadia Petrova in a shocker, 60 61, the fewest games she has ever won in a match in her career. But this time she was as sharp as ever, following through on her No.8 seeding with the routine straight set win over No.27 seed Kirilenko, her third straight set win over the Russian.
"I felt I was always in control of the rallies. Obviously, that was a good feeling to have," Clijsters said. "I also know her forehand is a little bit of her weaker side, so I was trying to play a little more to that side, the open the court up wide to the backhand... I felt comfortable. I served well today. It was a good win."
On Centre Court, Henin, the No.17 seed, blew through the first set then rallied from 1-3 in the second set to beat No.12 seed Petrova, 61 64. The Belgian, who broke at 15 to end the match, improved to 14-2 lifetime against Petrova (and now winning her last six matches against the Russian in straight sets).
Henin improved to 27-0 in her career in Grand Slam third round matches, perhaps showing once she gets a few wins under her belt at the majors she is even harder to stop. She is also 101-12 lifetime against Russians and has now beaten Petrova in straight sets in their last six meetings.
One of the deepest rivalries on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, only matched by the Venus-Serena head-to-head, will resume in the fourth round now, as Clijsters and Henin will play for the 25th time. The series is tied at 12-12, but Henin leads on grass, 3-1, that only loss coming by retirement.
"It's a great opportunity for both of us. To play each other again in a Grand Slam, it's something we wouldn't have expected a year ago," Henin said. "Now I just have to come down from this match. I'll have two days off now. It's tough to predict, except it's going to be a good one and the best will win."
"We've had some really tough matches so far this year," said Clijsters, who beat Henin in the final of Brisbane and the semifinals of Miami, both in third set tie-breaks. "In the two matches we've played this year, we brought out the best in each other. I started very well in both those matches, then she came back... but it was a high level both times. Hopefully we can bring that here on Monday."
Other early winners Friday were No.4 seed Jelena Jankovic, who cruised past No.28 seed Alona Bondarenko, 60 63; No.11 seed Marion Bartoli, who beat qualifier Greta Arn, 63 64; No.21 seed Vera Zvonareva, who pulled off a mild upset of No.15 seed Yanina Wickmayer, 64 62; and Tsvetana Pironkova, who won when Regina Kulikova retired down 64 20.