Clijsters gets back at TV commentator

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Richard Evans

Richard Evans has covered tennis since the 1960s, reporting on more than 150 Grand Slams. He is author of 15 books, including the official history of the Davis Cup and the unofficial history of the modern game in "Open Tennis." Follow him on Twitter.


Kim Clijsters, taking another step toward a title many people think she can win, overwhelmed Cara Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-3 in the second round of the Australian Open on Thursday and then took on Todd Woodbridge during an on-court interview.


See Kim Clijsters confront commentator Todd Woodbridge during her postgame interview about a texting rumor.

"What were you texting about me in Sydney?" Clijsters asked with a cheeky grin on her face. Woodbridge, who used to be one part of the famous 'Woodies' doubles team with Mark Woodforde, looked momentarily horrified and tried to laugh it off. But Kim had her claws in him by this time and there was no escape.

"You said you thought I was pregnant, didn't you?" she said.

"Oh, my God!" exclaimed Woodbridge who admitted having sent a text to Rennae Stubbs, an Australian player who is also working as a commentator for Channel Seven TV. By this time Todd was desperately anxious to end the interview, but Kim had reached match point and she was going for it.

"So tell them what you said," she went on. "You said I looked grumpy and my boobs looked bigger, right?"

Game, set and match. The problem, which Woodbridge should have thought about beforehand, was twofold. First, Stubbs is not the sort of person who keeps much to herself and, secondly, she is a very good friend of Clijsters. So, inevitably, they got to gossip in the locker room and Todd's indiscretion was passed on.

Clijsters expanded on the subject in a  press conference. "Obviously I'm very close with Rennae Stubbs," she said. "Yesterday, we were sitting around talking about babies, about me having a second one. All of a sudden, she goes ‘Yea, Todd wrote me a message during your match in Sydney saying he thought you were pregnant. So when I walk out there for the interview, it's like, OK, I'm going to get him back now!"

For the record, Clijsters, who is married to former Villanova University basketball player Brian Lynch, is not planning to have a second child just yet. And when she does, it will signal the end of her career. Clijsters made a famous comeback after giving birth to Jada Ellie by winning the U.S. Open in 2009 — and again in 2010 — but she added, "No, when No. 2 is coming, that's it. No more comebacks."

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Talking tennis, Clijsters explained that she is looking for opportunities to take charge of rallies far earlier than she used to. "I've been playing inside the court really well," she said. "Whenever I feel I can step forward from there, I do. You know, a lot of girls, or even the guys, like to just get into the rally and kind of just wait until they are really certain. But I think there are a lot of opportunities in the beginning of rallies where you can step forward and kind of dictate and put your opponent under pressure."

The pressure was altogether too much for the 5-foot-4 Suarez Navarro, who fought hard in the second set but was basically outplayed.

On the first really warm day of the championships, there was an early upset at Hisense Arena, where the No 7 seed and former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic lost an early break against China's Shuai Peng and then lost 7-6, 6-3. But the 25th-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova came through 6-3, 6-4 against Russia's Anna Chakvetadze, as did the 12th seed, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, who beat Petra Martic of Croatia in straight sets.

There is a new Serb on the block. Bojana Jovanovski, who turned 19 on New Year’s Eve, is the youngest player in the top 100, but she looked like anything but a rookie as she blasted her way through the first set 6-2 against No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva. Jovanovski had lifted her ranking to a career high of 58 by reaching the semifinal at Sydney the previous week and it required some diligent defensive play from the Russian to ensure that the match did not run away from her.

Zvonareva eventually utilized the skills that have gotten her to the past two Grand Slam finals and finished a relatively comfortable 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 winner. But she had to work for it. “We never played before so it took me some time to understand her game, to read her game,” she said. “At the start she was playing the way she likes so, of course, she was able to hit the ball cleaner. Then I mixed it up a little bit more and was able to play with a higher intensity. Getting through that kind of match will really help me improve for the next one. I’m very positive about it.”


From Anna to Maria, these ladies of tennis are hot on and off the court.

Australian fans, hoping desperately for a homegrown champion, are pinning their dreams on Sam Stosur and, for the time being at least, she is doing them proud. Last year’s French Open finalist, seeded No. 5 here, totally dominated Vera Dushevina and won in impressive style 6-3, 6-2.

Stosur is all over the media in Australia at the moment and the 26-year-old is trying to enjoy it while staying focused on the job in hand. “I guess I am aware of all the attention,” she said. “It is something I want to enjoy when it’s happening because I know some players who were not able to do that. I love what I do and I know it’s not going to happen forever. I suppose it’s a fine line between enjoying it all and not going overboard, still doing what you have to do.”

Meanwhile the crowds keep coming — total attendance for Thursday exceeded 64,000 — and the majority of them will be willing be shouting for Sam.

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