(21 MARCH) In her first match in almost two months, Kim showed some rust but ended up getting her groove back, winning her 1st round match at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami against Jarmila Gajdosova, 4-6 6-1 6-0.
It has not been a lucky last 12 months for Kim. Thanks to various injuries – including shoulder, wrist, ankle and abdominal – this is just her sixth event since Miami last year, and it is certainly reflected in her current status as the World No.37, her lowest ranking since coming back to the WTA in August 2009 (not counting when she was unranked through her first three tournaments).
But the last time she competed she was so close to top form, pushing Victoria Azarenka to three sets in the semifinals of the Australian Open, and she showed she still has a lot left in the tank on Wednesday, dropping the first set after leading 3-1 but going on absolute cruise control from there, winning 12 of the last 13 games of the match to beat the hard-hitting Gajdosova, 4-6 6-1 6-0.
'It's always tough to get that first match rhythm under your belt', Kim said. 'When it comes down to my game I felt I wasn't quite going through my shots as I should have. I was just trying to find that rhythm, but on the other hand maybe forgetting to still play aggressive tennis. But as I started to feel more comfortable with the conditions and being in a match situation again I was hitting better, and that definitely showed in the second and third sets.'
The conditions weren't the only things to get used to again – also just match play in general. 'It had been a while since I played a match', Kim added. 'My last tournament was in Melbourne, a good month and a half or two months ago, or even longer. I was home rehabbing my ankle and had a really good practice and physical schedule. But it's just a matter of getting those matches again. One thing I can count on is I have the experience, though. It doesn't take me that long to get used to it again. But it has become tougher.'
Kim also said the ankle that kept her out since Australia is 95% good now.
When Kim lost to Azarenka at the Australian Open, 6-4 1-6 6-3, little did everyone know Azarenka's 11-0 record then would balloon up to 23-0 now. 'I felt like I was really close to winning that match', Kim said. 'She's been playing really good tennis. I think she's in a mental state of mind where she feels very confident and is on a roll. It's really showing in her game and in the way she approaches matches. I know what it's like to be in that situation, where you feel very focused but at the same time playing freely, without any worries.'
Kim was also wearing a black ribbon during her match against Gajdosova. 'There is one funeral today and one funeral tomorrow for the Belgian kids and adults who passed away in the bus crash last week in Switzerland', she explained.
Clijsters's win over Gajdosova was her 30th career match win in Miami, now 30-7 overall. She is a two-time champion here, prevailing in 2005 (beating four Top 10 players along the way) and 2010 (beating three Top 10 players along the way, as well as a No.65-ranked, pre-breakthrough edition of Petra Kvitova).
In the next round, Kim will have a first-time meeting with No.14 seed Julia Goerges. Their 2nd round encounter will be the 2nd match on Thursday and should thus start around 12.30pm, local time.
(adapted from www.wtatour.com)