Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick sail through at U.S. Open

Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:53pm EDT
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By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kim Clijsters made a triumphant return to the U.S. Open on Monday, capping her belated maiden appearance as a defending grand slam champion with a straight sets win over Hungarian Greta Arn.

Clijsters recovered from a brief lapse in concentration in the second set to win 6-0 7-5 at the start of a busy first day at Flushing Meadows featuring five former U.S. Open winners.

American Andy Roddick, champion in 2003, celebrated his 28th birthday at Arthur Ashe Stadium with a 6-3 6-2 6-2 romp of France's Stephane Robert, clearing the way for Roger Federer and Venus Williams to take the spotlight in the night matches.

Clijsters was not at her best against Arn, going 4-0 behind in the second set, but managed to dig herself out of trouble as she finally walked on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court as the defending champion.

It had been a long time coming for the second seed but she said the wait was worth it.

"Just to come out there and defend my title ... I've never been in that position," she said. "It couldn't have come any faster. I wanted it to happen for a while, and I was just excited to go out there."

Clijsters won the title for the first time in 2005 but missed the next three years, initially through a wrist injury and then when she took time off to start a family, before her fairytale comeback last year to capture a second crown.

Roddick, returning to the game from an injury-sapping illness, looked a picture of health in a straight sets win over Robert as the last grand slam of the season began under brilliant blue skies and stifling summer heat.   Continued...

<p>Kim Clijsters of Belgium hits a return to Greta Arn of Hungary during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, August 30, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque</p>