OPENING PLAY IN NEW YORK
Defending champion Kim Clijsters briefly lost her step on a windy day before recovering in time to win her 15th straight match at the U.S. Open in New York.
Clijsters, the second seed, beat Hungary’s Greta Arn 6-0, 7-5 in the first round Monday. She fell behind 4-0 in the second set, and Arn, ranked 104th, had a chance to serve out the set at 5-4. But Clijsters got the break and then did it again to clinch the straight-set victory.
Clijsters said she wasn’t aggressive enough playing with the wind at her back early in the second set, waiting for the ball instead of moving up for it.
“She kind of put me under pressure a little bit where it should have been the other way around,” she said.
A year ago, Clijsters was a wild-card entry in only her third tournament back after 21⁄ years away from the sport. Now she’s one of the favorites to win the Open.
Melanie Oudin and Francesca Schiavone also know how quickly perceptions can change. Oudin, an American, has struggled with higher expectations since her crowd-pleasing run to the U.S. Open quarterfinals last year. So has Schiavone after her breakthrough French Open title in June.
But neither showed any signs of the pressure in cruising to dominant first-round wins.
Oudin, 18, needed just 56 minutes to beat Olga Savchuk 6-3, 6-0. Schiavone dispatched Ayumi Morita 6-1, 6-0 in 58 minutes.