Clijsters Misses Match Points, Falls To Rus
Published May 26, 2011 12:00
PARIS, France - In one of the most surprising results of the WTA season so far, four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters bowed out in the second round of the French Open on Thursday, squandering a 63 52 lead and match points in a messy 36 75 61 loss to unheralded 20-year-old Arantxa Rus.
In just her second clay court match of the year, the No.2-ranked Clijsters was looking very sharp early on, but after missing those two match points - one at 5-2, one at 5-4 - the momentum started shifting even more quickly, and after two hours and 65 unforced errors, Clijsters' hopes for a first French Open were over.
"I'm still trying to figure it out," Clijsters said. "I felt like she was missing quite a lot in the beginning of the rallies, and I felt I was moving her around well from side to side. Then I started doubting a little bit. That's definitely the wrong attitude to have, especially for me on clay. She obviously started building up more confidence, playing a lot better and putting me on my back foot all the time. I couldn't really play my aggressive tennis anymore in that third set."
With shoulder, wrist and ankle injuries keeping her out since March, Clijsters' preparation may not have been the best she has ever had going into a major.
"My ankle feels fine, that had absolutely nothing to do with it. If I felt like I wasn't as ready as I would have liked to be, I wouldn't have come here," Clijsters said. "Physically everything was fine. If I wasn't feeling I was able to play tough matches, I wouldn't have made the decision to come to Roland Garros.
"I'm not going to sit here and say maybe I shouldn't have come here. That's the attitude of a real loser, I think. I gave it the best I had with the abilities I had."
Clijsters had been 31-0 in Grand Slams against players ranked outside the Top 100, a stat the No.114-ranked Rus put to rest. "This is for sure my biggest win," Rus said. "In the beginning I was a little nervous, then I started playing better and better. And it was really nice to play against Kim. She's a real hero."
By virtue of exiting in the second round, Clijsters also misses out on any chance of taking the No.1 ranking back, guaranteeing Caroline Wozniacki will stay on top after this tournament, no matter how she performs.
Next up for Rus will be No.25 seed Maria Kirilenko, who defeated South Africa's Chanelle Scheepers, 61 64. Scheepers reached her first Grand Slam second week at this event a year ago but the Russian made it that far last year as well, falling to eventual champion Francesca Schiavone.