Belgium Fed Cup team coach Sabine Appelmans believes Kim Clijsters can make a successful comeback and once again become a grand slam champion.
The 25-year-old, who is a former world number one and US Open champion, announced her return to tennis on Thursday, and will play WTA tournaments in Cincinnati and Toronto before heading to New York for the final grand slam of the year, which begins on August 31.
“Kim has so much talent,” Appelmans said in the TV show Phara. “I don’t see her playing in the whole circuit so it’s going to be difficult to reach the top of the rankings.
“But she is not there to do that. She wants to win titles and play top games.”
Appelmans added: “When you see that Dinara Safina could be number one soon – Kim is usually better than her.
“Winning the US Open? It’s possible.
“The Fed Cup game against Canada comes too soon. You can’t directly play for your country with pressure on your shoulders, I understand that. But she will train with us.”
SYDNEY International tournament director Craig Watson has wasted no time trying to lock in the ever-popular Kim Clijsters for next January’s tournament.
Barely 24 hours after Clijsters confirmed she would be returning to professional tennis, Watson began planning to tempt the two-time Sydney winner back.
“I’ll certainly be talking to her management to make sure Sydney is part of her schedule for 2010,” Watson said.
The Belgian champion was given the nickname “Aussie Kim” due to her lengthy relationship with Lleyton Hewitt.
But even after the pair split in September 2004, Clijsters continued to strike a fond chord in Australian tennis fans’ hearts.
“We would love to have Kim come back. As everyone knows, we see her as an honorary Australian,” Watson said.
The Sydney International — which Clijsters won in 2003 and 2007 — was also the last WTA singles trophy she collected before retiring in May 2007 to marry American basketballer Brian Lynch. The couple had a daughter, Jada, born in February last year.
While Caroline Wozniacki was serving 12 aces, Jelena Dokic was serving 10 double faults, hardly the formula for winning for Dokic. But she fought hard after losing the first set 6-3, and forced the match into a 3rd set by winning 7-5 in the second. But the double faults were her undoing as she lost 6-2 in the third set.
Marion Bartoli(12) had the distinction of being the first seeded player to lose as she went down 6-2, 6-4 to Anastasiya Yakimova. But she was not alone as #19 Almagro lost to Taylor Dent 2-6, 6-2, 7-6, followed by Rod Soderling(23) who lost to US qualifier Kendrick. Marcos Baghdatis also lost, going down 3-6, 6-2, 2-6 to Paul Henri Mathieu.
Fourth seed Elena Dementieva survived a scare from wild card Anastasia Pivovarova to prevail 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 in an all-Russian second round clash at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami on Friday.
In a match featuring 13 breaks of serve, Dementieva converted eight of 19 break point opportunities to secure victory over her 172nd-ranked compatriot in one hour and 51 minutes – avoiding a repeat of the second round upset she suffered in Indian Wells two weeks ago (l. to Cetkovska). The 27-year-old is making her ninth main draw appearance at the Sony Ericsson Open and was the runner-up to Serena Williams in 2004.
The Monte-Carlo resident has enjoyed strong results on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in 2009 and has a 22-4 match record. She captured back-to-back titles at the start of the year in Auckland (d. Vesnina) and Sydney (d. Safina), was runner-up in Paris (l. to Mauresmo) and reached the semifinals at the Australian Open (l. to S. Williams).
Italian 15th seed Flavia Pennetta defeated doubles partner Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-4, 7-5 to secure her place in the third round. Pennetta and Kirilenko are the eighth seeds in the Sony Ericsson Open doubles event and reached the semifinals together in Indian Wells last week. The 27-year-old Pennetta has not advanced past the third round in four previous main draw appearances at the Sony Ericsson Open, and will look to do so for the first time when she takes on either Magdalena Rybarikova or No. 20 seed Amelie Mauresmo.
Czech Nicole Vaidisova was in devastating form as she accounted for No. 28 seed Alona Bondarenko 6-1, 6-0. World No. 71 Vaidisova, who reached a career-high No. 7 in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Rankings on May 14, 2007, was a quarterfinalist in Miami in 2007 (l. to S. Williams). She goes on to face either No. 8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova or Tamira Paszek.
Ana Ivanovic was named Humanitarian of the Year during the 2008 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Player Awards ceremony in Miami. The 21-year-old is recognised for her charitable efforts as a UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia, as well as her generous personality.
“Ana Ivanovic is a fantastic ambassador for our sport, both on and off the court,” said Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Chief Executive and Chairman Larry Scott. “Her willingness to give back to the communities in which she plays and in particular her commitment to helping children in need in her native Serbia is a testament to Ana’s character.”
“Wow!” said Ana. “This is such a nice honour. I’m not sure if I deserve it. I enjoy working with UNICEF and trying to help kids in some small ways. I love spending time with children, so it’s my pleasure to take part in these kind of activities.”
Serena Williams was voted the WTA Tour player of the year for the second time.
Williams also received the award for 2002. She won the U.S. Open in September and ended last year ranked No. 1.
Dinara Safina was selected most improved player for 2008, and Zheng Jie was chosen comeback player of the year. Top-ranked Cara Black and Liezel Huber were chosen doubles team of the year for the second time.
Caroline Wozniacki was selected newcomer of the year, and Elena Dementieva was honored with the Karen Krantzcke sportsmanship award.
Williams was the only winner not to attend a ceremony Thursday at the Sony Ericsson Open to honor the award winners. She released a statement through the WTA Tour.
Roger Federer won the ATP World Tour’s Stefan Edberg sportsmanship award for a record fifth consecutive year, and he was chosen the favorite player for the sixth year in a row in a poll of fans.
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal was chosen player of the year, and Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic were selected doubles team of the year.
James Blake won the Arthur Ashe humanitarian of the year award for his charitable efforts, and Rainer Schuettler was chosen comeback player of the year. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was chosen most improved, and Kei Nishikori won newcomer of the year.
The awards were announced Wednesday at the start of the Sony Ericsson Open.
“It is great to receive two more awards,” Federer said. “It is always important for me to be a good sportsman on the court and give the right example for others to follow and hopefully inspire the next generation. It also means the world to me to be the fans’ favorite player for the sixth year in a row.”
Tennis Australia has confirmed it wants its Davis Cup match against India moved out of the southern city of Chennai in May due to security concerns.
“We have received advice from a variety of sources referring to traveling to India,” Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood said in a statement Thursday. “It is on that basis of security concerns that we have asked for the tie to be moved out of India.
“The ITF has received our request and is doing its own security assessment. The safety of our players and staff is of paramount importance to Tennis Australia.”
The winner of the Asia-Oceania Group 1 match, scheduled for May 8-10, will advance to the playoffs for a spot in the elite world group.
In London, the International Tennis Federation confirmed it had received Tennis Australia’s request to switch venues, and had asked its security advisers to submit a report which it hopes to receive next week.
The ITF said there would be no discussion of alternative venues until it had reviewed that report and, until then, the match would take place in Chennai as planned.
The All India Tennis Association said in a statement that it was confident of the match being held in Chennai.
“There’s no need to shift it,” the statement said. “The International Tennis Federation wrote to us about Australia’s security concerns and we’ve sent a reply.”
The Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament was moved this week to South Africa due to security concerns in India.
A terror attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore, Pakistan earlier this month heightened concerns about security for sports events on the Indian sub continent. Seven test players, an assistant coach and a match official were among those injured. Six policemen and a driver were killed in the ambush by heavily armed gunmen.
In November, terror attacks in India’s financial capital Mumbai left 164 people dead and forced the cancellation of a Champions League Twenty20 cricket tournament involving provincial teams from five countries.