Clijsters eases past Safina at Open

Belgian appears in ominous form, crushing former world number one Dinara Safina in Australia.

    Nadal enjoyed a comfortable win in his first round match at the Open [Reuters]

    Kim Clijsters, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray all had comfortable wins in their first round matches at the Australian Open.

    Clijsters was in ominous form on Tuesday, crushing former world number one Dinara Safina without the loss of a single game.

    The reining US Open champion and third seed had too much for the Russian, who is returning from a career-threatening back injury last year.

    Safina, a runner up in Melbourne in 2008, didn't play badly, but was simply outclassed by the Belgian star; a sure bet to add to her grand slam collection.

    One of her main challengers, Vera Zvonareva also won through to the second round in straight sets.

    The world number two saw off the challenge of Austrian Sybille Bammer, a tricky left-hander who is probably past her best.

    She is due to meet Clijsters in the semi-final, in what would be a rematch of the US Open final.

    Fabulous start

    Zvonareva had a fabulous start to the season, routing top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki 6-1 6-0 in Hong Kong, but fell early in Sydney.

    She will certainly have a battle on her hands in round two against up-and-coming Serbian Bojana Jovanovski, ranked 58 in the world.

    The 19 year old is seen as the future of Serbian tennis, especially after Ana Ivanovic crashed out at the first hurdle.

    The former world number one lost a mammoth final set, having saved five match points, as she recovers from a torn stomach muscle.

    It will be a disappointing result for the 2008 French Open champion, having broken back into the top 20 at the end of 2010.

    Early casualty

    Both Nadal and Murray benefited from retirements in their opening matches.

    Brazilian Marcos Daniel had failed to win a game when he retired 6-0 5-0 down to Nadal, and Karol Beck quit in the third set of his match with Murray.

    Despite neither seed needing to close their match out, both looked certain to progress.

    Fourth seeded Robin Soderling also impressed in straight sets, and former US Open title-holder Juan Martin del Potro, working his way back from injury, also won through.

    Promising Latvian Ernests Gulbis was an early casualty, the 24th seed losing out to Benjamin Becker.

    But the match of the day was between home favourite Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian, which was still being played at 00:30 on Wednesday morning.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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