Photo: Eisele/Giubilo/ZimmerKim Clijsters (BEL)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Make no mistake, Kim Clijsters is a gold medal contender at London 2012. The Belgian has been plagued by injuries of late, but she seems to be back to her best on the grass courts and is through to the quarterfinals at the Olympic Tennis Event without dropping a set.
Following wins over Roberta Vinci and Carla Suarez Navarro in the opening two rounds, Clijsters booked her place in the last eight by defeating former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic 63 64 on Wednesday.
Clijsters, a four-time Grand Slam champion, served impeccably throughout the match and offered just two break point opportunities to Ivanovic, the No. 11 seed, neither of which were converted. At the other end, one break in each set was enough for the 29-year-old mother-of-one to wrap up victory in 58 minutes.
In tricky conditions on No. 18 Court, Clijsters started well and broke in the fourth game to edge ahead. With grey clouds brewing overhead, the world No. 36 just managed to clinch the first set before rain forced the players off court.
When they returned, Clijsters dodged two break points on her opening serve and then, adding salt to the wound, immediately broke the Serb in the next game. That was all the advantage she needed and proceeded to serve out the match with ease.
“I think the conditions were tough today, going on and off court. I managed to stay focused, even when I won the first set, when we had to go back inside,” said Clijsters, who is making her Olympic debut at London 2012.
“It didn't feel easy. At this stage of the tournament, you have to fight and you have to play some of your best tennis, and I did. I felt like I was doing a lot of good things out there today, and served a little bit better at important points. So overall I'm very pleased.”
The reward for Clijsters is a quarterfinal match-up with either Roland Garros winner Maria Sharapova or Sabine Lisicki, who are scheduled to meet on No. 1 Court later in the day. The Belgian leads Sharapova 5-3 in their head-to-head count, but has never previously faced Lisicki.
Clijsters has already announced this will be her penultimate tournament as a professional tennis player, with her final appearance coming at the US Open in a few weeks, but she insists that doesn’t change her mind-set when she takes to the court.
“It's actually surprisingly easy,” explained Clijsters. “I'm here to play tennis and that's what I'm focusing on. I don't think about it being finished. For the last 17, 18 years, I've been focusing on my matches. I'll do that until I play my last match. I think that routine and that rhythm is there automatically. So it doesn't change anything.
“When I came here to Wimbledon a few weeks ago, you take your time to take a lot of things in. You think about things a little bit more, but once you're focused on your match, I mean, I don't think about that this is my second to the last tournament at all.”
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