Clijsters, Nadal advance in fine form
MELBOURNE - US Open champion Kim Clijsters took another step toward winning consecutive Grand Slams with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Tamarine Tanasugarn in the second round of the Australian Open today.
Clijsters won the last six games after an early service break in the second set against the 32-year-old Thai veteran who was playing her 51st major.
Clijsters will next play No. 19 Nadia Petrova, one of the Russian women already into the third round, joining French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Kirilenko.
On the men’s side, defending champion Rafael Nadal converted five of his first six breakpoint chances in an emphatic 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 second-round win over Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko.
No. 7 Andy Roddick had a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci and No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, the 2007 runner-up, beat Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.
The 26-year-old Clijsters won at Flushing Meadows in September in only her third tournament back from two years off the tour in which she got married and had a baby.
Despite her success in New York, Clijsters said she still had plenty to prove, to herself and the other players on the circuit.
“My attitude doesn’t change because now I’m seen as one of the favorites,’’ she said. “To me, that doesn’t mean anything.’’
The 15th-ranked Clijsters improved to 20 wins and three losses since her comeback, a run in which she became the first mother to win a major since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980.
She beat former No. 1-ranked Justine Henin for the title at the Brisbane International Jan. 9 in what was Henin’s comeback tournament after 20 months off the tour.
The Belgian pair will stay on track to meet in the quarterfinals here if unranked and unseeded Henin can get past Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva. .
No. 16-ranked Yanina Wickmayer, a Belgian who didn’t get a seeding here because her suspension for a World Anti-Doping Agency “whereabouts rule’’ violation hadn’t been overturned before entries closed, reached the third-round with a 7-6 (2), 6-1 win over No. 12 Flavia Penneta of Italy.
Kuznetsova was first into the third round when she beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-2.
She broke Pavlyuchenkova’s serve twice to start and got on top of most rallies with a strong forehand and had 27 winners.
Kuznetsova, who has two Grand Slam singles championships - adding the French last year to her win at the 2004 US Open - has a chance to reach the No. 1 ranking for the first time if she clinches the Australian Open title.
In eight previous trips to Melbourne Park, Kuznetsova has advanced to the quarterfinals twice, including last year when she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams after being up a set and a break.
This year, the 24-year-old Russian is feeling more confident of winning.
“Yes, definitely, I know all the way how to go - I’ve done it twice,’’ Kuznetsova said. “It’s exciting. You always have different motivation at the Grand Slams - I love to play here.’’
No. 11 Marion Bartoli advanced and Britain’s Elena Baltacha equaled her best run at the season’s first major by reaching the third round with a 6-2, 7-5 win over No. 30 Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine. She could next meet 2009 finalist Dinara Safina, who was playing later Wednesday.
China’s Zheng Jie won 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 over No. 24 Maria Jose Martinez of Spain.
No. 4 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who lost the US Open final to Clijsters, had a 6-4, 6-2 first-round win over Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak.
In other first-round matches carried over to today from the rain-interrupted opening days, No. 7 Victoria Azarenka, No. 9 Vera Zvonareva, No. 16 Li Na, No. 22 Daniela Hantuchova, and No. 29 Shahar Peer all advanced.
Serena and Venus Williams won in doubles today, starting the defense of their Australian title with a 6-1, 6-1 victory.
The sisters opened their singles campaigns yesterday, Serena returing to Grand Slam play for the first time since her tirade against the line judge who called her for a foot fault during her US Open semifinal loss to Clijsters.
And while the 11-time major winner did seem less effusive than usual in her 6-2, 6-1 win over 18-year-old Urszula Radwanska, she didn’t hold back about what she thought of the $82,500 fine.
“I don’t know whoever got fined like that. People said worse, done worse,’’ she said, “I think it was a bit much.’’