NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kim Clijsters took an easy step on the path to defending her U.S. Open crown by dismissing Australian teenager Sally Peers 6-2 6-1 on Wednesday on center court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Second-seeded Clijsters, 27, crushed 22 winners against just eight for the overmatched Peers as she raced through a 56-minute match against a 19-year-old qualifier ranked 201 and playing her first grand slam tournament.
The victory extended the Belgian's U.S. Open match-winning streak to 16. She won the won the 2005 title but missed making a defense due to injury, and then took two years off after that to start a family.
Clijsters said it took a little while to get comfortable against an unfamiliar rival, whose only previous tour-level competition came in Hobart in 2009.
"I felt as the match got going, I started playing a little better. But I still have a little way to go to play my best tennis," Clijsters told the crowd.
The Belgian said she wanted to work on moving forward and getting on the attack.
"It takes time," she said. "I'm just trying every match to grow so I'm ready when the opponents get tougher."
Clijsters, who has made it to the third round of the last 16 grand slams she has played in, will face 27th seed Czech Petra Kvitova in her next match.
Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Frank Pingue