Confidence drop, not ankle, trips up Clijsters

PARIS — After losing two match points in the second set and feeling her confidence fading, Kim Clijsters watched the match slip away Thursday at the French Open.

The two-time French Open runner­up, seeded second this year, lost to 114th-ranked Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

"I started doubting a little bit," said Clijsters, who played only her second match in two months after shoulder and ankle injuries. "When you start doubting yourself on any surface, but for me definitely on clay, it's the wrong attitude to have."

Playing with her right ankle taped — the result of an injury while dancing barefoot at her cousin's wedding last month — Clijsters made 65 unforced errors and lost 11 of the final 12 games. Rus finished with 22 unforced errors and had only eight winners in the match.

"She obviously started building up more confidence, started playing a lot better, and was really kind of putting me on my back foot all the time," Clijsters said. "I couldn't really play my aggressive tennis anymore in that third set."

"When I was 5-2 down in the second set, I was thinking, 'Just go for it and play more aggressive,' " Rus said. "And, yeah, that really helped."

Maria Sharapova also struggled, but the seventh-seeded Russian won 11 straight games after trailing 4-1 in the second set and beat 17-year-old Caroline Garcia of France 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.

Despite the strong wind that affected her service toss, Shara­pova was able to get her game under control and take charge.

"The conditions were tough, and she was playing well, and I had to do something different," Sharapova said. "Yeah, I turned it around."

Expect to hear from Garcia, who was playing in only her second Grand Slam tournament.

"Girl sharapova is playing is going to be No. 1 in world one day caroline garcia, what a player u heard it here 1st," Andy Murray tweeted after he beat Simone Bolelli 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 7-5.

Two days after five-time men's champion Rafael Nadal was pushed to five sets for the first time in his career at Roland Garros, the top-ranked Spaniard won in three, beating Pablo Andujar 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

Nadal trailed 5-1 in the third set but forced the tiebreaker.

"Probably, I am playing a little bit nervous," said Nadal, who already has spent 7 hours, 19 minutes on court. "And that's why (my) legs didn't work as well as usual."

Nadal faces Antonio Veic, who eliminated No. 28 Nikolay Davydenko 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.

Also reaching the third round — for the first time in his career at Roland Garros — was No. 10 Mardy Fish, the last American in the men's field. The Tampa resident served well in beating Robin Haase 7-6 (7-1), 6-2, 6-1.

Given his new status as a top 10 player, Fish knows these are matches he's supposed to win.

"Over the course of my career, I haven't beaten players that I should beat. I feel like I've done that for the better part of 12 months now," said Fish, who faces No. 18 Gilles Simon next. "I enjoy it a lot more on this side of it than I do on the other."

.Fast Facts

French Open

When/where: Through June 5; Roland Garros, Paris

Today's top matches

Men: No. 2 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 25 Juan Martin del Potro; No. 3 Roger Federer vs. No. 29 Janko Tipsarevic; No. 14 Stanislas Wawrinka vs. No. 17 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Women: No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki vs. No. 28 Daniela Hantuchova; No. 3 Vera Zvonareva vs. Anastasia Rodionova; No. 5 Francesca Schiavone vs. Peng Shuai

TV: 5 a.m. today and Saturday, Tennis; noon today, ESPN2, ESPND

Confidence drop, not ankle, trips up Clijsters 05/26/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 27, 2011 12:13am]

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