Kim Clijsters gets upset; John Isner gets Rafael Nadal
The women's draw at the BNP Paribas Open lost its last major attraction Monday night when 14th-seeded Kim Clijsters, the defending U.S. Open champion, lost a 4-0 lead and seven straight points in the third-set tiebreak and was upset by Russian Alisa Kleybanova, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7-4).
In another night match, 15th-seeded John Isner rode the momentum of his first-set tiebreak win to beat fellow American and 17th-seeded Sam Querrey, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4. For his late-night efforts, Isner will draw third-seeded and defending champion Rafael Nadal in the next round.
Clijsters said she felt as if she let up a little bit when she got the quick lead in the tiebreak.
"On a few important points she came up with good passing shots or she hit a really good backhand down the line," Clijsters said of the 23-year-old Kleybanova, who is ranked 27th in the world. "I think that's maybe where I took my foot off the acceleration a little bit.
"What got me ahead ... was playing aggressive tennis and being dominant. I think she, by putting me under pressure during those long rallies, I kind of backed off a little bit. I think that was the wrong thing to do."
Since her comeback from a nearly two-year retirement last summer, when she made a dream run to win the U.S. Open yet lost in the third round of the Australian Open (a 6-0, 6-1 thumping by Nadia Petrova), she said she is still learning how to adjust to playing fewer tournaments now that she is a wife and mother.
"Something I did wrong today was backing off a little," she said. "Whether that has anything to do with playing ... not enough matches, I don't think so.
"But I will better have to deal with (the schedule) because I am not going to make myself play 24 tournaments a year again, you know? Obviously it's a different schedule than what I'm used to but I have to get used to it."
Isner dominated Querrey, and it was a measure of revenge for a three-set loss Isner suffered last month to Querrey in the finals of the Memphis tournament.
Isner didn't face a break point Monday night, when he had 11 aces and 31 winners to only 15 unforced errors. He also has never played Nadal and said he will have to serve big, attack well and pretty much, "play perfect."
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: Reigning U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters gathers her composure between points in a three-set loss Monday night. Credit: John G. Mabanglo / EPA