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KaseyL
Jun 5th, 2002, 11:46 AM
I think that these two articles haven't been posted yet.

Clijsters quickly shrugs off loss

by Jon Wertheim, Sports Illustrated

PARIS -- On one side of the net stood a player ranked No. 87 in the world, competing in her first tournament this year without having to qualify for the main draw. Her opponent: a 2001 finalist and the fourth seed, a player picked by many to win her first Grand Slam here. The late-arriving crowd on Court 1 expected the third-round match between Spain's Clarisa Fernandez and Belgium's Kim Clijsters to be a quick and easy affair. And it was, a 6-4, 6-0, error-laden clunker. Barely an hour after they had laid their first tracks in the clay, Fernandez pumped her first and skipped euphorically to the net.

A few days after fifth-seeded Justine Henin -- another Belgian many picked to win the whole shebang -- lost to qualifier Anikos Kapros, the upset bug bit Clijsters. While Henin could, and did, attribute her loss to a bout with the flu, Clijsters lost the old-fashioned way on Thursday. She missed a lot of balls, grew impatient on the clay, and competed poorly when she got into trouble.

As shocking as Clijsters' loss was, equally surprising was her demeanor afterward. If she was supposed to be the picture of despondence after what -- by any definition -- was a brutally bad loss, well, she never got the memo. "Of course I feel disappointed," she said with little apparent disappointment. "Someone has to lose and today it was me." She went on to heap praise on Fernandez as though Fernandez were the second coming of Angeles Montolio.

At some level, we want -- and expect -- athletes to be gladiators. We want to see them compete as though every contest is a personal referendum. From the winners, we expect to see blood and sweat; from the losers, blood, sweat and tears. Here at the French Open, we want to see our athletes coated in dirt, much as Marat Safin was Wednesday, a pomme frite battered in red clay. Clijsters looked and sounded as though she had just returned from a day at the spa.

Yet there was something oddly refreshing about her "sowhatitude," her repeated reassurance that there are fates in life more devastating than playing a rotten third-round match. After so many shrugs and so much optimism from Clijsters, Bud Collins finally said, with mock indignation, "We all try to make a tragedy out of this and you won't let us!" Clijsters responded charmingly, "Well, I think there are worse tragedies than losing a tennis match." (Given the collective groan emitted on the grounds at about 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon, losing a World Cup match to Senegal is another matter altogether.)

Clijsters comes by her perspective the hard way. When your mother prevailed in a nasty three-setter against liver cancer, what's a bad loss to a journeywoman like Clarisa Fernandez?

Unlike her boyfriend, Lleyton Hewitt, Clijsters has never competed with an abundance of fire nor regarded her opponents as an enemies in a blood feud. This is a player who lost a match last fall in Munich to Lindsay Davenport and promptly left a note in Davenport's locker wishing her luck in the final. Clijsters' father, Leo, repeatedly has told Belgian reporters that he wouldn't be surprised if his daughter stopped playing within three years to start a family.

Clijsters explained that, unlike Olympics sports, one of the virtues of tennis is that there's always another event. This time of year it's especially true -- hell, the next Grand Slam is barely three weeks away. In the meantime, Clijsters will try to iron the kinks from her game and watch her boyfriend attempt to live up to his top seeding. Hewitt plays again on Sunday. Clijsters is relatively certain the sun will rise again before then.

Clijsters not overly upset by upset

By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Tennis Writer

PARIS (AP) _ Nothing was going right for Kim Clijsters, who sprayed strokes long, short and wide against an opponent playing the match of her life at the French Open.

Yet last year's runner-up was nothing but calm, almost oddly so.

She didn't toss her racket or yell at herself or kick at the dirt or act in any of the other ways plenty of players, including her boyfriend, top-ranked Lleyton Hewitt, have been known to when frustration sets in.

The No. 4-seeded Clijsters simply looked at her racket strings and sighed every so often during a stunning 6-4, 6-0 third-round loss Friday to Clarisa Fernandez, an Argentine ranked 87th who'd never won a Grand Slam match until this week.

’It's still just a sport for me. I'm still young,’ the 18-year-old Clijsters said. ‘I'm sure I'll keep playing this tournament for a few more years.’

Venus Williams has had less success at the French Open than the other majors, but that could change soon. Her 6-1, 6-4 victory over No. 31 Rita Grande ensured she'll supplant Jennifer Capriati at No. 1 in the rankings and put her into the fourth round against resurgent Chanda Rubin, who knocked off No. 23 Anne Kremer 6-1, 6-0.

Other round-of-16 matchups: No. 6 Monica Seles vs. No. 11 Daniela Hantuchova, No. 13 Elena Dementieva vs. Fernandez, and No. 10 Amelie Mauresmo vs. Paola Suarez, who finished off No. 27 Nathalie Dechy of France just as whispers spread through the Center Court stands that the country's soccer team was beaten by Senegal at the World Cup.

Clijsters lost so quickly that she had time to go watch the end of U.S. Open champion Hewitt's 6-1, 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-1 victory over No. 30 Sjeng Schalken.

Hewitt now faces No. 15 Guillermo Canas, who defeated 1998 French Open winner Carlos Moya in a match interrupted for an hour when police evacuated Court 1 because of an unattended briefcase in the stands. A bomb squad blew open the case, didn't find anything worrisome, and fans were allowed back in.

Other men's fourth-round pairings set Friday: three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten vs. No. 20 Albert Costa, No. 3 Tommy Haas vs. No. 22 Andrei Pavel, and two-time finalist Alex Corretja vs. Mariano Zabaleta.

An hour after her not-so-upsetting upset, Clijsters smiled while discussing her game's momentary meltdown. She had 59 unforced errors against Fernandez, a 5-foot-10{ left-hander, who is, as they say, just happy to be here (her goal right now is to crack the top 50).

It's not that Clijsters - who's coming off a shoulder injury and had two tough matches earlier in Paris - didn't care about failing to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in the past five majors. It's that she didn't care TOO much.

‘I've gone through enough things,’ the Belgian said, ‘to realize that there are worse tragedies in life than losing a tennis match.’
A sense of how to live with the highs and lows of top-level competition was instilled by Clijsters' parents: father Lei was on Belgium's 1990 World Cup team, and mother Els was a national gymnastics champion.

Els Clijsters received a liver transplant in March 1999, and is in Paris this week, along with Lei, and Kim's younger sister, Elke, who's in the junior French Open.

‘After this tournament, there's another tournament,’ Clijsters said. ‘Of course I feel disappointed. But there are worse things.’

Her ouster means the two-woman Belgian Brigade is gone: Justine Henin, a French Open semifinalist and Wimbledon finalist last year, lost in the first round.

Lleyki
Jun 5th, 2002, 05:05 PM
thanx for the articles