Tennis

Clijsters wins in first round at Brisbane

Kim Clijsters
Can Kim Clijsters defend her Australian Open title?
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BRISBANE, Australia (AP)

Kim Clijsters began preparation for the defense of her Australian Open singles title with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Romania's Simona Halep in the first round of the Brisbane International on Sunday.

Clijsters beat China's Li Na in the final at last year's opening Grand Slam at Melbourne Park. This year's Australian Open begins Jan. 16.

''I felt that I was playing aggressively and moving well, so I was pretty satisfied,'' Clijsters said of Sunday's win.

She also said the abdominal problem that forced her to retire from a number of tournaments, including the U.S. Open, in 2011 had left no lingering problems with her serving action.

''I felt confident with my serve. I think that's something that, in the past, wasn't always the case,'' she said.

In another match Sunday, 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy advanced to the second round when her opponent, Ksenia Pervak of Russia, retired with a headache at 4-4 in the opening set.

Top-seeded Samantha Stosur plays her first-round match Monday, as will Serena Williams, who Stosur defeated in last year's U.S. Open final.

In men's play Sunday, James Duckworth of Australia beat Nicolas Mahut of France 6-4, 6-4. Top-seeded Andy Murray plays his first-round singles match on Tuesday.

Murray combined with former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis to beat Santiago Giraldo of Colombia and Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-2, 6-2 in a first-round doubles match Sunday at Pat Rafter Arena.

Murray said earlier Sunday that he had hired eight-time Grand Slam winner Ivan Lendl as his new coach in a bid to win a major title.

''It was important to me that any new person joining my team was able to add fresh insight,'' Murray said in a statement. ''Ivan's impact on the game is unquestionable and he brings experience and knowledge that few others have, particularly in major tournaments.''

The 24-year-old Murray spent last season ranked in the top four but still hasn't won a Grand Slam singles title.

Murray reached the Australian Open final and the semifinals of the other three Grand Slams last season. He has lost in two other major finals, including the Australian Open in 2010.

Lendl lost his first four Grand Slam finals before winning eight major singles titles.

''He has been through a lot of the same things that I have been through, so I am sure he can help me mentally with certain things,'' Murray said in Brisbane on Sunday.

''I spoke to him about a lot of the top players and how I am going to beat those players, and how to see their weakness ... how I can exploit them. So I am sure he will help me very tactically as well.''

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