By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Defending champion Kim Clijsters of Belgium overcame a second-set scare to defeat Greta Arn of Hungary 6-0 7-5 in the first round of the U.S. Open on Monday.
Clijsters sailed through an 18-minute opening set on a sun-kissed Arthur Ashe center court but fell behind 4-0 in the second set before roaring back to seize command.
The second-seeded Belgian ran off 12 straight points to pull within 4-3 and then broke in the 10th game and again in the last game to close out the match.
It was the 15th successive Open win for Clijsters, who last year claimed an inspirational triumph in her return to grand slam tennis after taking two years off to start a family.
Clijsters began her current win streak by winning the 2005 U.S. championship, but missed the next year's tournament due to a wrist injury and then stepped away from the tennis circuit.
The 27-year-old Belgian treated the big center court crowd to a near-perfect opening set at Flushing Meadows.
Committing only two unforced errors on her crackling groundstrokes, Clijsters was rolling along until 104th-ranked Arn began finding the range on her serve, and errors crept into the defending champion's game.Clijsters sprayed four faulty forehands and three backhand errors in the second set but found her form in time to avoid a third set.
After Clijsters charged out to a 0-40 lead for triple match point in the 12th game, Arn dug deep and won the next two points before the Belgian ripped a backhand down the line to complete her victory.
Clijsters, who has won three tournaments this year, next meets Australian qualifier Sally Peers, who advanced with a 6-0 6-1 victory over Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak.
Good victory, though I really wish she hadn't lost focus in the second set.
I think that's always been one of her problems even before retirement.
Once she got rolling to a great start she always seemed to lose concentration, and ended up having to battle back.
I think that's one of the biggest differences between Clijsters and Hingis.
Martina never lost concentration (not until around her second retirement).
It's what made her so dominant, and why she was the #1 player in the world for 209 weeks.
On the other hand Kim has always been better at battling back from a deep whole (score-wise).
Hingis had a tendency to give up if she didn't control the match right from the first set.
At least Kim was able to close things out in straight sets.
Her serve is looking much more solid (hopefully it'll keep improving as the week goes on).
Looking forward to her second match later in the week.