Kim Clijsters Two Wins Away From World No. 1 Spot

Gregory LanzenbergCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2011

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 29:  Kim Clijsters of Belgium drinks in her women's final match against Na Li of China during day thirteen of the 2011 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 29, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Australian Open winner Kim Clijsters is two matches away from overtaking Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki as World No. 1. The 27-year-old, who is playing the Paris Indoors this week, is scheduled to meet Germany's Kristina Barrois in the second round, and the draw should favor her into the semifinals.

The Belgian, who just lead her team to the semifinals of the Fed Cup after defeating the USA, took several minutes to talk about more important goals than her ranking.

"When you're this close to making it, it would be a nice accomplishment if I could do it," Clijsters said on Tuesday. "I'm not going to be disappointed if I don't make it. I would like to focus on a few more goals throughout this season, which are a couple of the bigger tournaments."

Moreover, Clijsters has already achieved this goal, which is why it's not as significant as it is the first time. The three-time US Open champion became No. 1 in August 2003, and was last No. 1 in January 2006, which is why she understands more than anyone what Caroline Wozniacki is going through at this moment.

"Back then I felt like it was a big achievement because I was obviously a lot younger and playing in an era where there were a lot of big names out there," Clijsters said. "Lindsay Davenport and the Williams sisters were a part of it. I was in a very similar situation to what Caroline Wozniacki is now -- I hadn't won a Grand Slam."

The only thing that could prevent Clijsters from reaching the last four of the Paris Indoor is her fitness since she hasn't rested since winning in Melbourne two weeks ago.

"I haven't been able to just relax and recover. I'm still going on with the same intensity I was in my three or four weeks in Australia," Clijsters said. "But I do look forward to having a few days off when I'm done in this tournament."

Since Clijsters has been able to win nine consecutive matches so far, I don't see what could stop her from reaching the semifinals this week even if she is tired.

Maria Sharapova, Yanina Wickmayer, Andrea Petkovic, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Melanie Oudin are also playing the Paris GDF Suez tournament, which is a Premier event on the WTA calendar.

Elsewhere, in one of the day's most eagerly awaited matches, qualifier Jelena Dokic needed three tight sets and just over two hours to see off world No. 30 Lucie Safarova. Following her 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory, Dokic goes on to face either Virginie Razzano or Nadia Petrova in the second round.

"I had nothing to lose. I just kept fighting and kept my level high from the second set," Dokic said. "I got a little tired in the third but was pleased how I responded physically, as she is a very fit player. I also played a left-hander in my last qualifying match so I was used to this. We don't play lefties regularly."

Dokic's win over No. 30 Safarova was her first Top 30 win since her magical run to the Australian Open quarterfinals in 2009. 

"I think playing three matches in qualies helped today. I was already feeling the ball well, but I have played a lot fewer matches than these girls in the past two years," Dokic continued. "I still have things I'd like to work on though."

During the height of her career, Dokic played for Serbia and Montenegro  and reached a career-high ranking of World No. 4 on Aug. 19, 2002. In the same year she was a quarter-finalist at the French Open.

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