Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams advance
NEW YORK -- Defending champion Kim Clijsters advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Sally Peers.
Venus Williams struggled early before reeling off the last six points of a tiebreak and beating 193rd-ranked qualifier Rebecca Marino of Canada 7-6 (3), 6-3. Unseeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia also reached the third round with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over 21st-seeded Zheng Jie of China.
The second-seeded Clijsters needed only 56 minutes Wednesday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium to defeat her 19-year-old opponent, an Australian qualifier whose previous encounter with the Belgian star came when she got her picture taken with Clijsters several years ago.
"To be honest, I didn't want it to end," Peers said. "I really enjoyed the experience. It was a real big thrill. I was playing Kim Clijsters, the defending U.S. Open champion. It's not every day you get to play someone like that."
Clijsters remembers making Wimbledon as a qualifier in 1999 and then finding herself walking onto Court 1 to play Steffi Graf, whose poster hung in Clijsters' room when the Belgian was a kid.
"I mean, there's absolutely nothing I remember about that match, but I remember walking next to her, admiring her head to toe," Clijsters said. "That's what I remember but it had nothing to do with tennis or how I was feeling. I was just overwhelmed by nerves."
Like almost all Aussie sports stars, Peers is well-followed at home in Melbourne, where the match aired at 9 a.m.
"I thought I did OK," she said. "I thought I returned really well. This whole week has been really, really fun."
She'll make $31,000 for her making it through qualifying and into the second round at the U.S. Open -- enough for a little shopping spree on Fifth Avenue.
Some things, though, she knows money cannot buy.
"This is probably a dream come true," Peers said. "When I was 10, if you'd told me I was going to play Kim Clijsters at Arthur Ashe Stadium, I'd have not believed you. To do that, it's really, like, wow."
Clijsters, who came out of retirement to win the U.S. Open last year, is trying to become the first woman to successfully defend her title at Flushing Meadows since Williams in 2001. So far at Flushing Meadows, she has barely been challenged -- losing a total of eight games in two matches.
Clijsters plays 27th-seeded Petra Kvitova in the third round.
The No. 3-seeded Williams trailed 3-1 in the tiebreak but responded with a cross-court backhand winner, followed by a forehand winner to get going and reach the third round at Flushing Meadows.
Williams won the U.S. Open in 2000-01 and has never lost earlier than the fourth round.
Wednesday's match was the American's second since late June, when she was upset in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. Williams pulled out of two hard-court tuneup tournaments in August after injuring her left kneecap.
Marino never had faced a top 50 player.
Ivanovic, the former world No. 1 who now stands at No. 40, needed 56 minutes Wednesday to defeat Zheng at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Ivanovic won the 2008 French Open but has never been past the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.
She hit 22 winners in making quick work of Zheng. The match was played in sweltering conditions -- with bright sunshine and temperatures in the 90s.
"Actually, yesterday I was feeling the heat the most," Ivanovic said. "I was practicing around 2 o'clock, and it was like, 'OK, I think I'm done with half an hour.'"
Meanwhile, Melanie Oudin's U.S. Open run is over after two rounds this year.
Oudin lost a sloppy match to 29th-seeded Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-2, 7-5. The teen from Marietta, Ga., captivated fans with her surprising run to the quarterfinals last year.
"The second I got out there, I did feel really tight," she said of Wednesday's match. "The crowd was really, really loud. It was just a lot. The second I got out there, I guess it kind of overwhelmed me a little bit."
The 43rd-ranked Oudin didn't make it past the second round at any Grand Slam this year after also reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2009.
"I guess I'm a little tiny bit relieved now," she said. "I can kind of start over -- I guess, like, start over from all the expectations from last year. And now I can just go out and hopefully do really well the rest of the year and keep working hard."
Bondarenko, who has advanced to at least the third round in the previous three majors this season, earned the victory with just four winners. Oudin had only nine -- to go with 38 unforced errors.
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"I just knew if she kept going with the mistakes, you wait for the next mistake and try to play without your own mistakes," Bondarenko said.
In other results, French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy, seeded sixth, beat countrywoman Maria Elena Camerin 6-2, 6-1; No. 12 Elena Dementieva of Russia defeated Sybille Bammer of Austria 6-3, 6-4; No. 20 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia beat Sania Mirza of India 6-2, 6-4; and 24th seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia rallied past American Vania King 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
Virginie Razzano of France upset 13th-seeded countrywoman Marion Bartoli 7-5, 6-4; Sara Errani of Italy knocked out No. 28 Alisa Kleybanova of Russia 6-2, 6-3; and Mandy Minella of Luxembourg upset No. 32 Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-4, 6-0.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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