Kim Clijsters is looking forward to life after tennis. Before that, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion from Belgium said she’s gearing for another deep run in her final U.S. Open.
Clijsters, 29, kicked off her last tournament with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over 16-year-old American Victoria Duval last night at the National Tennis Center in New York.
The 51-minute victory in Arthur Ashe Stadium -- on the same court where Clijsters captured U.S. Open titles in 2005, 2009 and 2010 -- pushed her winning streak at the season’s final major championship to 22 matches. While she’s missed five of the past eight U.S. Opens due to retirement or injuries, Clijsters’s last loss in New York came against fellow Belgian Justin Henin in the 2003 final.
“There’s a lot of great emotions and positive feelings that I use whenever I’m out here,” said the 23rd-seeded Clijsters, who plans to retire again following the tournament. “I’ve had a good feeling now in practice for a few weeks now. It’s going in the uphill direction, so that’s good.”
Roger Federer of Switzerland also extended a winning streak last night, improving to 22-0 in U.S. Open night matches with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Donald Young.
“It definitely brings the best out of me,” said Federer, who will play Bjorn Phau of Germany in the second round. “The crowds are amazing and it makes it a lot of fun.”
The 31-year-old Federer, a five-time champion who’s won a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles, capped Day 1 at the U.S. Open by joining fellow No. 1 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the second round. Azarenka was a 6-0, 6-1 winner against Alexandra Panova of Russia.
While Azarenka is the top seed in the women’s draw, three-time champion Serena Williams of the U.S. is the oddsmakers’ favorite and plays her first-round match today against American Coco Vandeweghe. Williams, who turns 31 next month, would be the oldest U.S. Open winner since Margaret Court in 1973 by continuing the form that yielded dominating wins at Wimbledon and the Olympics.
Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia is also scheduled to be in action today, facing Paolo Lorenzi of Italy.
Roddick, Venus Williams
Americans Andy Roddick and Venus Williams play matches in Arthur Ashe Stadium today, as does women’s No. 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland. Other men’s seeds scheduled to play their tournament openers include No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, No. 6 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic and No. 10 Juan Monaco of Argentina.
Eighth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark faces Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, while No. 6 Angelique Kerber of Germany and No. 10 Sara Errani of Italy also begin play.
Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray and defending women’s champion Samantha Stosur won their first-round matches yesterday, when rain halted play during the day session for more than two hours.
Murray, the No. 3 seed from the U.K., beat Alex Bogomolov Jr. of Russia 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, while Stosur, the No. 7 seed from Australia, topped Petra Martic of Croatia 6-1, 6-1.
Maria Sharapova of Russia, the 2006 U.S. Open champion who is seeded third this year, defeated Melinda Czink of Hungary 6-2, 6-2. American Mardy Fish, the men’s 23rd seed, also won in straight sets, as did women’s fifth-seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, No. 9 Li Na of China, No. 11 Marion Bartoli of France and No. 15 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic, who beat Melanie Oudin of the U.S. 6-4, 6-0.
American wild card Jack Sock upset No. 22 seed Florian Mayer of Germany, who retired while trailing 6-3, 6-2, 3-2, while 16th-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany was eliminated by Sorana Cirstea of Romania 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Clijsters cruised to victory against a teenager who’s ranked 562nd in the world and received a wild-card invitation to make her debut in a Grand Slam.
Clijsters’s 22-match winning streak is the second-longest at the tournament since professionals were permitted to enter major championships in 1968, trailing only Chris Evert’s run of 31 straight victories from 1975-79.
“Vicky before the match was saying how she hardly slept the night before and I did the same back then, so I said we’ve all been there,” said Clijsters, who will play Laura Robson of Britain in the second round. “I was even nervous to come out here. I’m happy that I’m still here and still winning some matches, so it’s been exciting.”