Jan. 18 • In Melbourne, Kim has come out firing, winning her first round match against Dinara Safina 6-0 6-0 in just 44 minutes!
With Kim clicking on all cylinders, Australian Open 2009 finalist Safina became the first former No.1 in Open era history to suffer a double bagel defeat at a Grand Slam. While Safina has struggled since returning from back injury last summer, she by no means anticipated being hammered in such fashion.
Kim had come into the match with a 7-2 record against Safina, but had dropped two out of her last three matches against her. But the Russian isn't even close to the same level player who took out Clijsters on a hard court at 2009 Cincinnati, and the Belgian was never truly threatened. Kim played an incredibly clean match, nailing 17 winners and a mere 4 unforced errors, while the stunned Safina only managed 8 winners and committed 14 unforced errors. The three-time US Open champion was faster, more powerful, more accurate with her serve and her return.
'My mind has been on this match for a while already, ever since I found out my draw last week', Kim said. 'I knew if she played her best, I had to play my best to beat her. That's what I came here to do. When you see your opponent isn't at their best, you still have to keep the same mentality and focus.'
'I didn't know how to win a point', Safina said. 'I was looking forward to this match. We've played many times. I wanted to go out there and play my game and see what happened. But today she was just cruising and cruising.'
'She was the person who made the biggest impression on me when I started again, not just because of her fitness, but because of her power', Kim added. 'She just doesn't have the power she used to have. She used to have one of the best backhands down the line in the game, now she doesn't use it. She didn't get to No.1 just by luck, though. The game is still there. She just has to win a few matches, a few tough matches, then build some more confidence.'
'I guess I had the same feeling as last week when I won one game, except this week I didn't even win one game', Safina said. 'I've been doing two months of pre-season. I'm fully motivated. I cannot say I didn't practice hard. But I guess something was not right. I have to figure out the answers. There are no secrets. I've always believed in hard work. But it's not about the hours. I need to find the right way to work. I will give my hundred percent to get back.'
A year ago in Melbourne, Clijsters suffered the worst loss of her professional career, a 6-0 6-1 third round loss to another Russian, Nadia Petrova. She was asked in her post-match press to compare that to what Safina might be feeling.
'There's not much you can say to make her feel better, but I know her well. We were talking in the locker room. She's a good girl like that. It's not like she's not going to talk to me for the next two months when I see her on the road. But that's the sport we play - we step out there, two players, and things like that happen. But let's hope it's not going to make her confidence go even lower.'
Clijsters has now won 27 straight Grand Slam first round matches and the last 19 of those victories have come in straight sets.
In the 2nd round, Kim will face Carla Suarez Navarro ― the Spaniard has defeated the American McHale in 3 sets. It will be their first meeting.