Clijsters makes winning return

CINCINNATI: Former World No 1 Kim Clijsters made a triumphant return to tennis on Monday, defeating France’s Marion Bartoli

in straight sets in her

first match in more than two years.

Clijsters, who retired in May of 2007 and gave birth to a daughter in February of 2008, defeated 12th-seeded Bartoli 6-4, 6-3. Clijsters, 26, received a wild card into the draw of the tournament which has been bumped up to WTA premier status.

The ebullient Belgian advanced to a second-round clash against Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder, a 6-4, 6-0 winner

over Argentina’s Gisela Dulko. Clijsters showed no sign of rust as she raced to a 4-0 lead, displaying a solid serve as well as the canny ground game that was her trademark.

Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic rallied after dropping the first set and shrugged off a rain delay of nearly two hours to beat American Melanie Oudin 2-6, 6-1, 6-1. Ninth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus beat Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 7-6 (7/2).

German Anna-Lena Groenefeld beat France’s Virginie Razzano 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, while Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak beat Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-0, 6-3. Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko cruised past Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-2 to set-up a second-round tie with Serena Williams. The top eight seeds, including Safina, Serena, Venus Williams and Olympic gold medallist Elena Dementieva all received first-round byes.