Petrova dumps Clijsters out of Australian Open

By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Nadia Petrova proved she had no room for sentiment, dumping crowd favorite Kim Clijsters out of the Australian Open third round Friday with a 6-0 6-1 thrashing in just 52 minutes.

The 19th-seeded Russian had never beaten Clijsters, who is still in the early stages of her return from retirement, in their four previous encounters.

"It sucks. It's something you don't want to happen too often," Clijsters told reporters of her performance. "I have had a lot of days like this, trust me, but they just did not happen in my matches.

"I didn't feel the ball at all. On the other hand she was good. But I made all the mistakes and she didn't really have to do much.

"What is more frustrating? Playing like this or getting beaten when you play your best?

"I lost because it was my fault. My opponent, okay, she was better, but I didn't give her the best Kim out there today."

Petrova had stamped her mark on the match early, keeping Clijsters off balance with powerful ground strokes and a clinical service game that stunned the Hisense Arena crowd into silence.

If she hoped the break into the second set would give her the time she needed to settle and begin a fight back, the Russian had different ideas, winning the first game of the set to love and then giving up just two points on Clijsters' serve in the next.

Clijsters appeared to have found her touch when she held a break point, but Petrova refused to allow her to capitalize.

Petrova broke again and while Clijsters was able to stave off two match points when the Russian was serving for victory, she was unable to stop her opponent's irrepressible momentum.

(Editing by Patrick Johnston and Alison Wildey)