Clijsters' farewell begins well
Serena Williams held her concentration long enough for a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over Anne Kremer.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Kim Clijsters extended the winning start to her farewell tour, beating Akiko Morigami 6-3, 6-0 Thursday to reach the third round of the Australian Open.
The 23-year-old Belgian, who has announced she is retiring at the end of this season in the hope of starting a family, recovered from an inconsistent opening set to run through the second in 24 minutes.
She started the year with a win over Maria Sharapova in the final of a Hong Kong exhibition tournament and last week won the Sydney International.
Recently engaged Martina Hingis, into the second year of her comeback after three seasons on the sidelines, had a 6-2, 6-2 win over Russian Alla Kudryavtseva to move closer to a quarterfinal rematch with Clijsters.
Makes unforced errors
Clijsters won her first-round match without dropping a game but was erratic early against Morigami, making more unforced errors (12) than winners (11) and dropping serve twice.
She clicked into gear in the second, making only three unforced errors in the last six games.
She blamed the slow start on a late night, staying up to watch Frenchman Gael Monfils upset last year's finalist Marcos Baghdatis on Wednesday.
"I went to bed maybe a little too late," she said. "But I'm playing well, and it's nice to be back on this court again."
Sixth-seeded Hingis, who became engaged to Czech player Radek Stepanek last month, moved closer to another quarterfinal showdown with Clijsters.
Hingis won three straight Australian titles from 1997 and then lost three consecutive finals before quitting the tour because of nagging foot and ankle problems.
After a small hiccup, broken when serving for the match at 5-1, Hingis broke the Kudryavtseva's serve to close out in 68 minutes.
Her comeback to the Australian Open in 2006 ended in a quarterfinal loss to Clijsters, who has lost to the eventual champion here in her last four trips.
Light rain showers caused delays on outside courts, with matches held up by at least 90 minutes.
Marat Safin's chance for a third-round match against Andy Roddick was saved by rain on Wednesday night.
Safin, the 2005 Australian Open champion, was within two points of a shocking loss to 202nd-ranked Dudi Sela, down 5-6 in the fourth set and serving at 30-30.
A rain shower forced a suspension.
After a 17-minute break, Safin returned and fired an ace and a service winner, forcing a tiebreaker. He won that and then raced through the fifth set to win 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-0 as the Israeli qualifier struggled with cramps.
"If the rain doesn't come, I was lost," said Safin, who exchanged 20 service breaks with Sela.
He next faces sixth-seeded Roddick, a 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-4 winner over Marc Gicquel to advance.
"I expected to play Marat," Roddick said. "I think we're both maybe better than a third-round matchup. But that's the way it shakes out."
Top-ranked Roger Federer beat Swedish veteran Jonas Bjorkman 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 and next faces U.S. Open semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny.
His anticipated fourth-round rematch with Baghdatis was negated by Monfils, the 2004 junior world champion from France.
Monfils lunged for shots and slid into splits as if he were on clay in a 7-6 (5), 6-2, 2-6, 6-0 win.
Defending women's champion Amelie Mauresmo won 6-2, 6-2 over Olga Poutchkova and Serena Williams held her concentration long enough for a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over Anne Kremer.
"I think I lost a little focus like when I was up 4-0 in the second. I started daydreaming -- I'm too experienced to daydream at that stage."
Williams next plays No. 5 Nadia Petrova, one of three Russian women in the top 10 advancing Wednesday. Joining her were No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova and No. 7 Elena Dementieva.
Top-seeded Sharapova is back in action Thursday against fellow Russian Anastassia Rodionova.
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