PARIS (Reuters) - Kim Clijsters could have blamed her strapped ankle or a two-month layoff for her shock French Open second-round defeat Thursday but instead the honest Belgian simply put it down to a “wrong attitude.”
After a confident first-round victory Tuesday and a great first set against Dutch neighbor Arantxa Rus, Clijsters lost a match point and her game suddenly fell apart to give the world number 114 a famous 3-6 7-5 6-1 win over one of her heroes.
The U.S. Open and Australian Open champion was the second seed in Paris and had rushed back from hurting herself at her cousin’s wedding to try to better her two runners-up finishes on the Roland Garros clay.
“I started doubting a little bit,” Clijsters told a news conference.
“I think that, on clay, is something that for me is definitely the wrong attitude to have. My ankle feels fine, so that has absolutely nothing to do with it.”
A massive 53 unforced errors and nine double-faults cost Clijsters dear but she did not regret battling back to fitness for the year’s second grand slam having dominated a lackluster women’s game in the last nine months.
“I made the best with the situation that I was in, and I tried to go for it,” the 27-year-old said with a resigned smile.
“If I felt like I wasn’t ready as much as I would have liked to be, I wouldn’t have come here.”
Runner-up in 2001 and 2003, the Belgian gave up a crucial second break in the final set with a double fault and the tall, long blonde-haired Rus gleefully took her chance with another break.
The weather was colder, cloudier and windier than recent days and a half-empty center court failed to lift Clijsters, who has indicated in the past she may quit after next year’s London Olympics.
She previously took two years off to have a child before winning the 2009 U.S. Open in only her third tournament back.
That success led to Rus looking up to Clijsters and the 20-year-old, in only her third year on tour, can now revel in beating her.
“This is for sure my biggest win,” said Rus, whose first name has nothing to do with Spain’s former top player Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.
“It was really nice to play against (Clijsters). She’s a real hero. I really like to play on the center court, it was the first time. So in the beginning I was a little bit nervous and after I started playing better and better.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar