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Clijsters' challenge gathering momentum

Kim Clijsters reaches for a shot in her match on day three.
by Barry Newcombe
Wednesday 27 June 2012

Kim Clijsters has started her ninth Wimbledon with all the confidence and belief that years on the Centre Court have taught her. Disciplined, dedicated and free of any serious errors she beat the Czech Andrea Hlavackova 6-3, 6-3 in 65 minutes to reach the third round

Clijsters is at the start of her 30th year and knows her way around  the big show courts and making a dent at this Wimbledon is something which would delight her and her fans.

It may be a measure of Clijsters’ form that she was never in serious trouble against Hlavackova, who ranks 90th in the world compared to Clijsters’ position at 47th. Not once did Clijsters concede a break point, so clear were her targets, so absolute her concentration.

In the eight previous appearances at Wimbledon, Clijsters has been a semi-finalist twice - in 2003 when she lost to Venus Williams and again in 2006 when her fellow Belgian Justine Henin beat her. None of this is recent history but that may act as a spur as the tournament unfolds.

As Clijsters had beaten the 18th-ranked Jelena Jankovic in her first match, she had good reason to be confident against Hlavackova, who is ranked 90th in the world. This is Hlavackova's third year running at Wimbledon and she played with boldness, going stroke for stroke in many rallies until the Belgian surprised her.

The Centre Court crowd was in the mood for some fast points and decisive hitting at this early stage of the evening and were not disappointed. Clijsters won her opening serve and had two break points on Hlavackova in her first service game. The Czech saved one with an ace, the second with a passing shot, but the groundwork had been laid.

Hlavackova was broken for 4-2, a game in which she served her third ace, but Clijsters again had two break points and won through on the second with a crisp forehand. Three games later she had the first set after an attack which included a forehand winner which left Hlavackova groping and then two service winners. The first set was over after 32 minutes and the crowd sensed there would be little alteration in the progress of the match.

Hlavackova, who will be back at Wimbledon for the Olympics, had to fight off a break point at the start of the second set and after doing so served her fourth ace. Her forehand became a little  unreliable and in the seventh game Clijsters won the first break of the set .

Clijsters repeated the break two games later to complete her victory, going to match point on shot confirmed by Hawk-Eye and finished with a winning forehand.

Clijsters said: “This was the first time I have played under the roof since 2009. I was very happy with the way everything went today. It was a step up from my first match. I was really focused and wanted tokeep my level up. She played a tough game as well. A couple of games here and there made the difference.”

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