Clijsters dispatches nervy Tetreault

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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters made a smooth return to Melbourne Park with a comfortable 6-0 6-4 win over a nerve-struck Valerie Tetreault in the first round of the Australian Open Monday.

After steamrolling the Canadian in the first set, the Belgian met stiffer resistance from Tetreault in the second but broke the qualifier late to wrap up the match in less than an hour.

"I think I felt very comfortable when I went out there in the beginning, and I think sometimes that can be a little bit different at the start of the year," Clijsters told reporters after her win under a closed roof at Rod Laver Arena.

"I mean, if you haven't been in a situation like that, and I remember my first few times when I stepped out on center court, it's a little bit overwhelming. You kind of just want to block it out, but it's very hard to."

Clijsters, who was beaten by compatriot Justine Henin in the final of the 2004 Australian Open, fired six aces and clubbed 26 winners in her first appearance at Melbourne Park since retiring to become a mother.

Dominant throughout the match, Clijsters, who returned from two years out of the game last August, will hope to tighten her game in later rounds after spraying 23 unforced errors.

"I think physically-wise I feel stronger, and obviously in my mind that's already a big advantage," she said.

Clijsters next faces either Kazakhstan's Sesil Karatantcheva or Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)