Clijsters continues comeback momentum

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Kim Clijsters' career comeback continued to gather momentum on Tuesday with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Australia's Alicia Molik at the Brisbane International.

Updated: January 05, 2010 10:51 IST
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Kim Clijsters' career comeback continued to gather momentum on Tuesday with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Australia's Alicia Molik at the Brisbane International.

Top-seeded Clijsters won the first eight games in the second-round match until Molik, playing her first top-tier tournament since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, held serve.

Clijsters won the US Open last September in only her third tournament back from more than two years in retirement, becoming the first mother to win a Grand Slam singles title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980.

Clijsters' title inspired a comeback by fellow Belgian and former No. 1-ranked Justine Henin, who won her first tour match since May 2008 on Monday against second-seeded Nadia Petrova of Russia.

Having Clijsters and Henin on the opposite ends of the draw sets up the possibility of an intriguing all-Belgian final in Brisbane in the lead up to the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 18 in Melbourne.

Clijsters said she watched Henin's comeback match on TV and was confident that both of them had the potential to return top of the women's tour.

"She was moving really well. Didn't look like she'd left," Clijsters said. "Very impressive I thought."

Clijsters said she was looking forward to another match against Henin, but also wanted to be tested by the other stars of the game.

"Of course, it will be a good challenge, but there's a lot of other girls I look forward to playing as well," she said, picking out Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova and Venus and Serena Williams. "Those are obviously the big matches. And Justine now as well.

"Justine and I, we've been on top of women's tennis for a few years, so hopefully we can get back to that in the next few years."

Clijsters is into the quarterfinals against either Alexsandra Wozniak or Lucia Safarova.

She said she hasn't lost any momentum since the end of last season, spending time during the break training in Germany against "lots of guys" to mix it up and fine-tune her game.

"After a few weeks of practicing in the off season I was ready to come out here and play matches," she said. "I like to practice, but when I feel I'm ready, I want to start playing matches. So I was very excited to come out here and play my first matches."

She has only lost six games in her opening two matches in Brisbane, following a 6-2, 6-1 win over Tathiana Garbin in the first round, and her powerful forehand was working well against Molik.

Molik rallied to get the second set back on serve by breaking Clijsters in the sixth game, but the 26-year-old Belgian won the last three games to close out in an hour.

James Blake continued his dominance over fifth-seeded Sam Querrey, improving to 6-1 in head-to-heads with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 first-round win over his fellow American.

Blake hit 49 winners and dropped serve only once against the 22-year-old Querrey, who is coming off his best career season.

In other first-round matches, 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus beat American Mardy Fish 7-5, 7-5 and will next face fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych, a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Australian qualifier Nick Lindahl.

Ukrainian qualifier Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. upset rising Australian talent Bernard Tomic 6-4, 6-4.

Australia's Carsten Ball had a 7-5, 6-1 win over Germany's Mischa Zverev to set up a second-round match against top-seeded Andy Roddick.

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