Kim Clijsters, who is playing her final Wimbledon, will miss days like these. Her 6-3, 6-2 second-round win over Andrea Hlavackova was never in doubt, yet it was just close enough to keep her on her toes. It’s the kind of match that Clijsters, superior athletically to 99 percent of the competition throughout her 14-year career, would likely be able to keep winning for half a decade to come.
After some opening-round jitters and rust against Jelena Jankovic, Clijsters felt like she played much better today. The stats bear it out. Clijsters made 74 percent of her first serves and won 74 percent of those points. She was even better on second serve points, winning 83 percent of those. Clijsters hit 18 winners, but it’s the errors that count the most with her, and she kept those down to a more-than-reasonable 10. Bonus: She was 12 of 14 at the net.
Clijsters had never faced Hlavackova, and the 25-year-old Czech, ranked No 90, had her moments; the first set featured just one break of serve. But her awkwardly long swings—Hlavackova's backhand is a funkier version of Caroline Wozniacki’s pulled two-hander—spelled trouble for her against Clijsters’s heavy ground strokes. By the middle of the second set, Kim appeared to biding her time before striking. That strike came at 3-3, when she cracked a forehand winner for 15-40. You had a feeling the match was well in hand when the camera flashed to Clijsters’ husband, Brian Lynch, at this crucial juncture and found him looking slightly bored.
Next up, Clijsters could get Vera Zvonareva, a fellow veteran who was the last woman to beat her at Wimbledon, in the quarterfinals in 2010. It’s one match at a time for Kim these days; each one could be the last here. While this wasn’t her most memorable victory, it was certainly representative of why she’s been so good—so effortlessly good—for so long.