Clijsters, Mauresmo manage opening Sydney wins
Jan 9, 2007, 9:45 GMT
Sydney - Fully fit Kim Clijsters joined Amelie Mauresmo as an opening-round winner Tuesday as the top two women's seeds advanced into the third round of the Medibank International.
The pair of former number 1 players and former tournament champions scored contrasting wins with Clijsters taking a stroll past Australian veteran Nicole Pratt 6-1, 6-2 in 55 minutes after an opening-round bye.
'I've been working hard on fitness and feel as good as I have in a long time on court,' said the third-seeded Belgian winner, who lifted the Sydney title in 2003 and plans to quit the game at age 24 sometime this year.
'I'm keeping it simple,' she added. 'I don't have to worry about injuries at the moment. I can just concentrate on the little yellow ball.'
Mauresmo, the defending Australian Open champion and Sydney winner in 2000, faced more of a struggle before finally edging out French compatriot Tatiana Golovin 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 6-1.
The top seed lost an opening set tiebreaker and missed a chance at 5-3 to easily serve out the second set to level.
But the 26-year-old eventually found her form to move into a contest against surging Serb Jelena Jankovic, who rolled over Australian Samantha Stosur 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) a day after putting out former number 1 Martina Hingis.
Jankovic, 12th in the world, came to Sydney with a weekend title from Auckland.
Israeli Shahar Peer upset Swiss seventh Patty Schnyder 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 while eight-seeded Czech Nicola Vaidisova advanced over Yuliana Fedak of the Ukraine 6-3, 6-1.
On the men's side, holder James Blake took a decisive first step in his title defence, crushing fellow American Kevin Kim, 6-3, 6-4 to begin his season.
Blake lifted five trophies in a red-hot 2006, rising to a career-high fifth in the rankings.
He is pointing his new season at the Grand Slams, starting with the Australian Open on Monday,
'It won't be easy, but I'd love to have as much success as I had here last year and then maybe go to Melbourne with even more confidence,' Blake said. 'I'm definitely looking forward to this tournament and the rest of the Australian summer.'
Czech qualifier Ivo Minar got a free ride when Thai Paradorn Srichaphan had to quit while trailing 6-2, 3-0. He complained of wrist injuries that bothered him at the end of last season and prevented him from playing in December's Asian Games.
French sixth seed Richard Gasquet defeated countryman Julien Benneteau 6-1, 6-4.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur