Rejuvenated Clijsters completes mother of all comebacks - Tennis - Sport - The Independent

Rejuvenated Clijsters completes mother of all comebacks

It was as though she had never been away. Four years after her last appearance at Flushing Meadows, Kim Clijsters strode back into Arthur Ashe Stadium yesterday and powered to a thumping 6-1, 6-1 first-round victory over Viktoriya Kutuzova on the opening day of the US Open.

Clijsters, who retired from tennis two years ago in order to start a family, returned to competitive tennis last month, playing in tournaments in Cincinnati and Toronto. The 26-year-old Belgian said earlier this summer that she would decide on her longer-term plans at the end of this tournament, but is already talking about making a fully fledged return.

"She's playing top 10 tennis, there's no doubt about it," Martina Navratilova said after Clijsters took less than an hour to reach the second round.

In her first two comeback events Clijsters beat four top 20 players – Svetlana Kuznetsova, Victoria Azarenka, Marion Bartoli and Patty Schnyder – and lost only to Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic, the world No 1 and No 4 respectively.

Nevertheless, a Grand Slam tournament always represents a major step-up in terms of public interest, even if there were huge open spaces in the 23,000-capacity main stadium for the opening match of the tournament, which was played in warm sunshine. It was quite a change from Clijsters' last appearance on the court, when she beat Mary Pierce in the 2005 final to claim her only Grand Slam title.

With her sunny disposition and attacking game Clijsters is hugely popular here and the crowd soon had plenty to cheer. The former world No 1 won the first seven points, her big forehand pulling Kutuzova from side to side, and quickly went 5-0 up. The 21-year-old Ukrainian, No 79 in the world rankings, looked nervous and rarely troubled Clijsters, who struck the ball cleanly, served well and moved smoothly around the court.

Clijsters admitted afterwards that she had been nervous. "I still feel like I can improve, but I'm definitely comfortable where I am right now," she said. "It's always a matter of just trying to work on those little things, assessing every match that I play and looking at where I feel I can improve."

Next up is the No 14 seed, Bartoli, who lost to Clijsters in straight sets in the first match of the Belgian's comeback last month. Bartoli yesterday dropped only one game in beating Paraguay's Rossana de los Rios, who is one of only two other mothers in the 128-strong draw, with Austria's Sybille Bammer. Clijsters, who has been travelling this summer with her husband and their 18-month-old daughter, will be the first mother to claim a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon in 1980 if she wins here.

Serena Williams made a successful start to the defence of her title but gave a patchy performance in beating a fellow American, Alexa Glatch, 6-4, 6-1. Williams made 19 unforced errors, only three fewer than her opponent.

Roger Federer, chasing a sixth successive US Open title, beat Devin Britton, an 18-year-old American wild card, 6-1, 6-3, 7-5. With the victory Federer became the first player in history to win $50m (some £30.7m) in prize-money.

Britton, who is the world No 1,370 and had played only one previous match at tour level, said the crowd was "100 times bigger" than any he had played in front of before. He was pleased with his performance, particularly as he had found Federer's forehand "just crazy. I tried to keep it away, but sometimes I just hit it there just to see it. I'm going to have great dreams about it. It's so pretty," Britton added.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week