Barrois Sets Up Clijsters Clash

Kristina Barrois will be Kim Clijsters' first opponent in the Belgian's quest to return to No.1.

Published February 07, 2011 12:00

Barrois Sets Up Clijsters Clash
Kristina Barrois

PARIS, France - Kristina Barrois became the first winner at the 19th edition of the Open GDF SUEZ on Monday, rallying past Iveta Benesova, 57 64 64.

Watch live matches from Paris starting Friday on TennisTV!

Barrois, 29, and Benesova, 28, had met once before on the WTA, with Barrois prevailing in a tight one in the first round of a clay court event in Budapest four years ago, 76(6) 57 76(5). And the German pulled off another tight win, firing seven aces and edging the Czech in a two-hour, 14-minute marathon.

"It was a really close match. Every point was hard-fought," said Barrois, the last player into the main draw. "I was here to play qualies but it was a nice surprise to get in at the last minute. I'm really happy to be in the second round."

Barrois is a late bloomer, not even playing her first WTA main draws until 2006, by which time she was in her mid-20s. Her big serve and classy one-handed backhand have helped her finish the last three years in the Top 100.

"After I finished school, I worked for three years. I never intended to become a professional tennis player, it just happened," Barrois said of her progression. "Even though I'm 29 years old now, I still want to play for a few more years."

Barrois' next task will be a tough one. She faces the No.2 player in the world, Kim Clijsters, who could take No.1 again if she reaches the semifinals here.

"I've never played Kim so it will be a highlight," Barrois added. "I will try to enjoy it and play my best tennis but obviously she's the favorite!"

Read more about Clijsters' No.1 ranking quest by clicking here.

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