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Clijsters' Olympic quest off to clean start

Kim Clijsters on her way to an opening round win
by Dan Imhoff
Saturday 28 July 2012

Kim Clijsters gave Belgium plenty to cheer about on Day One of the London 2012 Olympics, racing through her opening round match in just over an hour against Italian Roberta Vinci.

The unseeded Clijsters was rarely troubled in her 6-1, 6-4 win and awaits the winner of the match between Australian fifth seed Samantha Stosur and Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.

On No.2 Court, Clijsters drew first blood against the Italian, breaking for 3-1 before holding confidently for 4-1.

Vinci – a player more than competent at net – attempted to serve-volley at 30-30 to change the tone of the first set but the Belgian passed with ease, her forehand down the line bringing up break point, which she converted when Vinci’s drop shot landed short.

With the winners beginning to flow from Clijsters’ forehand down the line, she sealed the first set 6-1 in 25 minutes.

"My tactical plan was to try not to let her get into the match where she can play with the opponent," Clijsters told the Olympic News Service. "She moves them around and it was up to me to stay on top of my baseline and not give her the opportunity to do that."

Breaking immediately to commence the second set, she looked well in control only to slip after being wrong-footed to hand the break of serve straight back.

Serving for the match at 5-4, a fleeting bout of Olympic nerves set in as Clijsters opened with a double fault before handing Vinci two break points.

She steadied and when a Vinci backhand sailed long Clijsters had her first match point.

It would be the only chance she needed as finished the point off at net to book her second-round berth after 61 minutes.

Clijsters also commented how much she was enjoying being part of the Olympics. 

"It's a great feeling knowing that I'm here, that I'm at the Olympics bceause tehre were moments in the last year and half where I definitely thought about retiring and not even get to the Olympics. So I'm happy that I stuck with it and that I kept working hard. 

"It's like a virus, it spreads. When you see all the other athletes from your country and the people who follow it, it's hard not to get into it.

"The Olympic sport in general is so unique, and you hear someone like Roger Federer talk about it, he has won so many Grand Slams but he wants a gold medal [in the singles] beacuse he hasn't won that.

"I still feel that whenever I step out on court and I feel good physically, if I play good tennis, I can beat a lot of good players out there. With that attitude, I'll go until I play my last match. 

"Knowing that this is my second to last tournament, it is special."

The London 2012 Olympic tennis is taking place at Wimbledon. Visit the ITF Olympics site for full scores, draws and the London 2012 site for video content, venue and schedule information.

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