Easy for Murray; Sania-Fleming duo advances, but Bhupathi-Bopanna pair crashes out
British teenager Laura Robson ended the singles career of three-time U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters on Wednesday with an emotional 7-6(4), 7-6(5) victory in the second round of the U.S. Open tennis.
Clijsters, whose Grand Slam title haul also includes last year’s Australian Open, had not lost at the U.S. Open since falling to compatriot Justine Henin in the 2003 final on the same Arthur Ashe Stadium court.
That just made her shock downfall all the more poignant.
“This feels like the perfect place to retire. I just wish it wasn’t today,” Clijsters said.
“I gave it all and just wasn’t good enough at the end of the match.”
Robson snapped the Belgian’s 22-match U.S. Open win streak, smacking a tricky forehand winner on the line on the penultimate point and firing a service winner to claim the victory on her third match-point chance.
On a day when Wimbledon and Olympic winner Serena Williams turned her left ankle in a doubles match and Britain’s third-seeded Andy Murray became the first man to reach the third round, nothing topped Clijsters saying goodbye.
Clijsters, 29, made her final bow on the same court where she won her first Grand Slam title in 2005 and followed it up with crowns in 2009 and 2010. She had said she was leaving the sport for more time as a wife and mother.
“One of my biggest dreams came true in 2005 winning here,” Clijsters said. “Every time I came back I was so inspired by the energy that was out on this court and I played some of my best matches on this court.
“It has all been worth it. But I look forward to having the next part of my life coming up.”
Robson, who was age five when Clijsters first played here, will next face Chinese ninth seed Li Na, who dispatched Australia’s Casey Dellacqua 6-4, 6-4, in 87 minutes.
“I got a little bit emotional there. It was very nice to hear those things from another player,” Clijsters said.
"It does something to you when you hear other players talk about you like that. I've played players that I spoke to and they said that I inspired them. That's a great feeling, because I was once in that situation as well.
“It's not just the tennis side of things that you think about now. It's about life. We've had a lot of things happen in these last 15 years that I've been on tour. I'm able to look back at them and I'm very happy with the progress that I've made.”
The people she has touched are a who’s who of tennis, from the perseverance she showed before winning her first Grand Slam title at the 2005 U.S. Open through her first retirement and her comeback victory at the 2009 U.S. Open after only two tune-up events.
“She has been a great inspiration to me personally,” World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka said. “What she did to come back and win a Major after just two tournaments was an amazing accomplishment and really inspiring.
“She's just great for our sport. For sure we'll miss her.”
Serena Williams, the reigning Olympic and Wimbledon champion and a 14-time Grand Slam singles champion, praised Clijsters for her cheerful outlook.
“Kim has had such a fabulous career, especially here at the Open,” Williams said. “She just brings some special tennis. She's always so bright and has such a positiveness about her that you can’t help but wish her the best.”
Venus Williams, said Clijsters inspires her and displayed “a resurgence like no other coming back winning two Majors” in 2009 and 2010.
“I think she's an inspiration for everyone who has said, ‘If you put your mind to it, you have a dream, you can do whatever you want and all the things you want. She has done that. That is just is motivation for me.” World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, this year’s Australian Open champion, reached the third round while defending champion Samantha Stosur and third seed Maria Sharapova, the reigning French Open champion, advanced with ease as well.
Meanwhile, Sania Mirza entered the mixed doubles second round with a new partner. Sania made a fresh start with Englishman Colin Fleming when the duo defeated the British-American combination of Andrea Petkovic and Eric Butorac 6-2, 7-6(5). In men’s doubles, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna were shown the door in the first round itself.
The eighth-seeded Indian team was defeated 6-3, 7-6(4) by unseeded Australians Matthew Ebden and Bernard Tomic. But Leander Paes sailed into the second round with Czech partner Radek Stepanek.
Keywords: US Open 2012