Clijsters sends Russia’s Safina packing at Australian Open

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MELBOURNE - Belgian Kim Clijsters humiliated Russia’s former world number one Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-0 Tuesday to head trio of impressive winners at the Australian Open.

Tournament favourite Clijsters sent Russia’s Safina packing in only 44 minutes to send a stark warning to the rest of the field, following easy victories by Russia’s Vera Zvonareva and local hero Samantha Stosur.

Second seed Zvonareva disposed of Austria’s Sybille Bammer 6-2, 6-1 in 59 minutes, while fifth seed Stosur took 53 minutes to thrash American wildcard Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-1.

But 2008 runner-up and ex-number one Ana Ivanovic became another first-round casualty when she was shocked by 49th-ranked Russian Ekaterina Makarova 3-6, 6-4, 10-8.

Clijsters’ emphatic win came a day after some fancied players struggled to overcome modest opponents in their first matches.

The two-time US Open champion was in complete control throughout the lopsided encounter, barely raising a sweat as she swept the distraught Safina from the Rod Laver Arena.

Safina was a runner-up at the Australian Open just two years ago but looked a shadow of her former self as Clijsters dominated every aspect of the game.

The first set was over in a lightning 20 minutes and the second flashed by in 24 as Clijsters underlined why she is many people’s pick the title.

“I knew I had to be really focused and play the best I can,” Clijsters said.

Meanwhile, world number two Zvonareva declared she was ready to win her first Grand Slam title after her straightforward win over Bammer.

The 26-year-old from Moscow reached the finals of both Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010 and said she always felt comfortable playing in Australia.

Stosur, hoping to become the first Australian to win the women’s title since Chris O’Neil in 1978, was ruthless as she took advantage of Davis’s early nerves, rushing to a 5-0 lead before the American was on the scoreboard.

She said she was determined not to go easy on 17-year-old Davis, despite the American’s youth and inexperience.

Former world number one Jelena Jankovic steadied when it mattered to advance to the second round over Russia’s Alla Kudryavtseva.

Petra Kvitova eased into the second round with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Australian wildcard Sally Peers, while 10th seeded Israeli Shahar Peer swept aside France’s Mathilde Johansson 6-1, 6-1.

China’s Peng Shuai downed Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 2-6, 6-3, 8-6 in just over two hours, and Ayumi Morita of Japan beat 27th seed Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania 6-4, 6-4. (ANI)

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