Second-ranked Kim Clijsters lost in the second round of the Unicef Open on Tuesday, falling 7-6 (5), 6-3 to Romina Oprandi of Italy for a premature end to her Wimbledon preparations.
“There is no bigger thing in tennis,” the 82nd-ranked Oprandi said of her victory on the Rosmalen grass court. “It was a miracle.”
In the men’s competition, third-seeded Xavier Malisse of Belgium beat Alejandro Falla 6-3, 6-1 in their first round match and will next face Dutch wild card Jesse Huta Galung.
The top-seeded Clijsters skidded to the net and stumbled on the first point of the second game and appeared tentative throughout the match, although she did not call for any medical treatment.
Oprandi played with her right knee and right arm heavily taped, but repeatedly surprised Clijsters with heavily sliced backhand drop shot winners, many of them off Clijsters’ serve.
“I think maybe she was not 100% and I tried drop shots,” Oprandi said of her winning tactic. “It came out good for me.”
It was Clijsters’ second straight second-round exit, after losing to Arantxa Rus in the French Open.
The Belgian started the year by winning the Australian Open for her fourth Grand Slam title, but has struggled in recent weeks.
She overexerted her right shoulder and wrist during a busy spring schedule, then compounded her problems by injuring her right ankle while dancing at her cousin’s wedding in April. She had the ankle taped for her brief run at the French Open.
Oprandi twice played drop shot winners off Clijsters’ serve as she broke in the fifth game of the first set. However, Clijsters rallied to break Oprandi back in the next game.
But the Italian retained her composure to hit two aces and another drop shot winner to win the tiebreaker.
Oprandi again broke Clijsters in the second game of the second set and then held her serve to record her biggest career win.
In her first match since her early Roland Garros exit, Clijsters also struggled on Monday as she beat Monica Niculescu of Romania 7-5, 7-5.
‘Able to move up a gear’
Clijsters’s defeat means the top seeds in the men’s and women’s draw have both been knocked out, after Michel Berrer of Germany beat Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in a first-round match on Monday.
Malisse, a semifinalist at the grass-court tournament last year, broke Falla three times in the first set and twice in the second for an easy win.
Huta Galung beat Julian Reister of Germany 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. The Dutchman said he was “able to move up a gear” after a scrappy first two sets.
Also, fifth-seeded Jarkko Nieminen beat Maximo Gonzalez 7-5, 6-1.
In the women’s draw, Jelena Dokic of Australia overpowered Alla Kudryavtseva 6-0, 6-4 in the first round while Kimiko Date-Krumm beat Lourdes Dominguez Lino 7-6 (3), 6-0 to set up a quarterfinal with Oprandi. — Sapa-AP