Clijsters marches on after shaky start

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The Independent Online

It was comeback day here at the US Open yesterday. Kim Clijsters maintained her promising form after more than two years out of the game by beating Marion Bartoli, while Rafael Nadal won his first Grand Slam match since going out of the French Open earlier this summer. The Spaniard, who is returning after injury, beat Richard Gasquet, another player making his comeback after an enforced absence.

Clijsters earned a third-round encounter with a fellow Belgian, Kirsten Flipkens, thanks to a hard-fought victory over Marion Bartoli. The former world No 1, who is playing her first Grand Slam tournament since the 2007 Australian Open, won 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.

Having beaten Bartoli in the first match of her comeback last month, Clijsters had every reason to feel confident against the world No 14. In the first set, however, she struggled to handle the sheer weight of Bartoli's strokes and made too many errors. Everything changed in the second as Clijsters found her range and pulled Bartoli all around the court, hitting 39 winners and securing victory with an ace.

Nadal missed Wimbledon with tendinitis in both knees but began his comeback last month and looked in good shape against Gasquet, who is returning after suspension following a positive test for cocaine. Nadal won 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.

Ana Ivanovic, the No 11 seed, was knocked out by Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko. Venus Williams, the No 3 seed, again looked to be struggling with knee trouble but was too good for her fellow American, Bethanie Mattek-Sands.