Defending champion Kim Clijsters triumphed on stadium court today over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open, ringing up her 500th tour-level match win in the process. The World No. 2 fought for two hours to defeat the Spanish player 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Martinez Sanchez, a left-handed player and the No. 27 seed, challenged Clijsters with a powerful return game, and Clijsters had more unforced errors than usual. “I think a couple of times my footwork wasn't right there and I was not playing the game that I should be playing,” said Clijsters.
“It’s a little hard when you have a player who plays two totally different shots on each side,” she added, acknowledging the difficulties Martinez Sanchez’s left-handed game presented. Nevertheless, the Belgian player saved five of nine break points to close out the match with a total 33 winners.
Clijsters defeated Venus Williams to secure the title here last year, and also won in 2005 against Maria Sharapova, who advanced to the fourth round with her win yesterday.
Although Clijsters retired in the fourth round of Indian Wells last week with a shoulder injury, she seemed confident in her strength for Miami. “I have to focus a lot of my attention and my time on my shoulder, but I know if I can do that that it will stay stable,” she said.
photos Janos Schmidt