Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kim Clijsters returns to tennis at UNICEF Open

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‘S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands – One of the UNICEF Open‘s unseeded players will most likely have more eyes on her than anyone else in the field, with Kim Clijsters returning to the WTA this week.

Clijsters has not played since March because of a right hip injury, but is looking to get some grass court preparation in for one more run at Wimbledon, as she has indicated that she will retire after the US Open.

Clijsters has had success at ‘s-Hertogenbosch before, having reached her first grass court final here in 2001 and having secured her first grass court title here in 2003. In her first appearance here since her championship run, she was stunned by Romina Oprandi in last year’s second round – a match in which she suffered a right ankle injury that forced her to miss Wimbledon. Interestingly enough, her opener this year is against none other than Oprandi.

A possible second round foe for Clijsters will be getting a lot of attention too, as No.2 seed Sara Errani plays her first event since her magical run to the French Open final. The Italian has a losing career record on grass, but will certainly be competing with a boosted sense of confidence after a European clay court season that saw her go 18-3 with two titles and crack the Top 10.

Though top-seeded Samantha Stosur isn’t usually in her best form on grass, she is coming off a semifinal showing at Roland Garros. Third-seeded Dominika Cibulkova also could be dangerous, as her quarterfinal showing at the French Open included a defeat of then-World No.1 Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round. Yanina Wickmayer, runner-up here in 2009 and into the final of the ongoing NÜRNBERGER Gastein Ladies, also is playing well.

The other former ‘s-Hertogenbosch champions in the draw besides Clijsters are 2011 winner and No.6 seed Roberta Vinci and 2002 winner Eleni Daniilidou, who actually play each other in the first round.

As the top seeds in doubles, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci will be putting their 19-match, four-tournament win streak on the line. Their victims in the French Open final, Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova, are seeded second.

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