Clijsters exits as Azarenka, Ferrer cruise
Updated: 2012-08-30 13:36
Kim Clijsters of Belgium waves to the gallery after her loss to Laura Robson of Britain in their women's singles match at the US Open tennis tournament in New York August 29, 2012. The star-studded career of Clijsters ended in the place where it all began on Wednesday, just not quite in the way she would have wanted. The popular Belgian, who won as many friends for her bubbly, generous character as for her 'eyeballs-out' tennis and fighting spirit, saw her hopes of a fairytale goodbye dashed by British teenager Robson in the second round of the US Open. [Photo/Agencies]
NEW YORK - British teenager Laura Robson drew the curtain on Kim Clijsters' illustrious singles career on Wednesday by eliminating the former world number one from the U.S. Open as other top guns encountered little resistance.
While Victoria Azarenka and David Ferrer cruised to straight-sets victories at Flushing Meadows, Belgian Clijsters had tears in her eyes after her shock 7-6 7-6 defeat in the second round.
The three-times US Open champion remains in the doubles and mixed doubles draw but the loss to Robson was her final singles match before she quits the tour grind to concentrate on family life.
Clijsters saved two match points in the 12th game of the second set with a searing forehand volley and a huge first serve.
The match-deciding tiebreak overflowed with tension as she fought to extend her career but Robson, the world number 89 playing with fearless aggression and pinpoint accuracy, converted her third match point and it was all over for the 29-year-old Belgian.
"I have played some of my best tennis here and some of my best matches," Clijsters said.
"It is a place that has inspired me. This feels like the perfect place to retire - but I just wish it wasn't today.
"I fought and gave it my all but just wasn't good enough in the end. It's been a great adventure. It's all been worth it but I'm looking forward to the next part of my life."
Robson paid tribute to Clijsters in an emotional on-court interview.
"I was just trying to play as well as I could because if I didn't, I knew Kim would completely dominate," the 18-year-old said.
"I want to say thanks to Kim for being such a great role model for so many years. I have grown up watching you play and it has been an honour to finally play against you."
Clijsters' early exit was the first significant upset of the tournament. Other matches on Wednesday went mostly to script, the only mild surprises involving the lower seeds.
World number one Azarenka overpowered Belgian qualifier Kirsten Flipkens 6-2 6-2 in 65 minutes in a blustery Arthur Ashe Stadium before defending champion Sam Stosur of Australia recorded a routine 6-3 6-0 win over Edina Gallovits-Hall.
On the men's side, fourth-seeded Ferrer stopped erratic South African Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-2 7-6 and big-serving American hope John Isner won a high-quality clash with Xavier Malisse 6-3 7-6 7-5 7-6.
"A lot of people are projecting me to go far here but I wasn't looking past this match," the ninth-seeded Isner said.
"As you guys could see, I had my hands full. Got to a certain point there where it was anyone's match."
Isner said he hoped to be inspired rather than intimidated by reaching a single-figure ranking.
"I try not to feel the pressure of being a top-10 player," he said. "As cliched as it is, you have to take it one at a time.
"I'm in a good place at this tournament right now. I've won a lot of matches since Wimbledon. I know in the nitty-gritty times of a match I always have that confidence and all those wins in my back pocket."
Thirty-one-year-old wildcard Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 champion at Flushing Meadows, needed nearly three hours to defeat Germany's Tobias Kamke 4-6 6-2 6-1 6-4 on Court 13.
Australian Hewitt will next face Gilles Muller, one of nine players to have recovered from the brink of defeat at two-sets down in the first round.
Eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic joined the club by clawing to a 4-6 3-6 6-2 6-3 6-2 win over Guillaume Rufin. Ernests Gulbis defeated 21st seed Tommy Haas 3-6 4-6 6-4 7-5 6-3 and Muller snuck home for a 2-6 3-6 7-5 7-6 7-6 defeat of 28th seed Mikhail Youzhny.
"I had to grind and suffer and do whatever was necessary to win," Tipsarevic said.
Title threats Juan Martin del Potro, Petra Kvitova and Li Na all progressed with routine straight-sets victories.