Toronto, Canada – By Greg Stutchbury
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters was at a loss as to why her game completely fell apart in her 6-0 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Nadia Petrova in the Australian Open third round Friday.
Clijsters was one of the favorites, both sentimentally and form-wise for the year's opening grand slam at Melbourne Park, but she was taken apart in 52 minutes by the 27-year-old Russian.
Clijsters began 2010 by winning the Brisbane International beating compatriot Justine Henin, herself returning from retirement, and romped through her first two matches in Melbourne.
Not that anyone watching in Hisense Arena or on television around the world would have known it.
"I was completely off. Just, I think tennis-wise, I didn't feel the ball at all," Clijsters told reporters. "It sucks. It's something you don't want to happen too often.
"You know, matches like this, maybe it happens once a year where you feel like this.
"But you don't want it to happen more than this because then, you know, it's not a coincidence."
Clijsters has adopted a meticulous approach to her training and travel and decided to cut back on the number of tournaments since she returned. She said the build-up for the Australian Open was exactly as planned.
"After doing well at the U.S. Open and coming here, I was feeling good. I felt like I had a really good preparation.
"I'm very superstitious with my routines and everything, so I really stick to that every day.
"That's why I'm a little bit confused in a way as well, why something like this happened. I ate the same, slept the same, everything... I really have nothing else. I don't know what more it could be."
Clijsters said she would return home and leave the match to the archives.
"This is something probably you want to forget as soon as possible and go home and get settled at home for a few days and then start working hard again and try to forget about it.
"Everything I've been doing so far with my coach, my fitness coach, everything has been going really well.
"I'm going to try to not let a match like this get me down or start doubting myself or anything."
(Editing by Alison Wildey)