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Clijsters Dream Ends In 52 Minutes

PTI 23 Jan 2010, 9:15:25 AM IST

The much-anticipated quarter-final between the back-from-retirement Belgians dissolved in 52 minutes on Friday at the Australian Open. That's the time it took for Kim Clijsters to lose, in embarrassing fashion, her third-round match at the season's first Grand Slam tournament. The 6-0 6-1 defeat to Russian Nadia Petrova was as one-sided as the score indicated.

Clijsters lost the first set in just 18 minutes and won only five points in her first seven games.

Justine Henin, who was inspired to return to the tour after a 20-month absence after Clijsters won last year's US Open, did her part, with some difficulty, earlier on Friday in beating Alisa Kleybanova 3-6 6-5 6-2.

Clijsters hasn't been on the receiving end of such a lopsided scoreline since losing the French Open final to Henin 6-0 6-4 in 2003.

“I was completely off. I think tennis-wise, I didn't feel the ball at all,” Clijsters said. “On the other hand, she was good, but I made all the mistakes and she really didn't have to do much.

“It's something you don't want to happen too often. It sucks that it has to happen at this stage of this tournament. That's sports — it can happen.”

Defending champion Rafael Nadal dug himself out of a mid-match slump to defeat Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4 6-2 2-6 7-5 and advance to the fourth round. Andy Murray, US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Roddick and Fernando Gonzalez also advanced. No. 5 Murray, looking to win his first Grand Slam singles tournament, beat Florent Serra of France 7-5 6-1 6-4. He next faces American John Isner, winner of the Auckland tournament last week for his first ATP title. The 6-foot-9 Isner continued his strong form by beating 12th-seeded Gael Monfils of France 6-1 4-6 7-6 (4) 7-6 (5).

No. 4 del Potro beat Florian Mayer of Germany 6-3 0-6 6-4 7-5 and seventh-seeded Roddick advanced with a 6-7 (4) 6-4 6-4 7-6 (3) win over Feliciano Lopez of Spain. Gonzalez, the 2007 finalist here and seeded 11th, beat Evgeny Korolev of Kazakhstan 6-7 (5) 6-3 1-6 6-3 6-4.

Second-seeded Dinara Safina, the 2009 finalist, advanced with a 6-1 6-2 victory over Britain's Elena Baltacha. Safina will have a more difficult assignment next round against fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko, who beat Italian Roberta Vinci 7-5 7-6 (4). Kirilenko had an upset win over 2008 champion Maria Sharapova in the opening round. Former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic was upset 6-2 6-3 by No. 31 Alona Bondarenko. advanced to the fourth round. AP