FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Kim Clijsters and Roger Federer both stopped young Americans on Opening Night at the 2012 US Open.
Clijsters, after an inconsistent start, held herself together to dispatch 16-year-old Victoria Duval 6-3, 6-1 while Federer pushed back Donald Young 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
“The U.S. Open, for me, was always, I don’t want to say easy, but very natural and I’ve always looked forward to it in a big way,” Federer said in his quest for a record sixth US Open title in the Open Era.
“It’s a place that brings out the best in me,” Federer said.
Young who had a 17-match losing streak earlier in the year,Â saw his 2012 record fall to 3-22.
Duval who received wild-card by virtue of winning the Â National Girlsâ€™ 18 and under Â championship event in San Diego earlier in the summer, is ranked 562nd in the world. This was her first WTA tour-level match â€“ a debut at a major on Opening Night.
“I was freaking out,” said effervescent Duval.
Clijsters herself said she was nervous “It was a special occasion. … I was nervous, maybe almost as much as she was,” Clijsters said.
â€œI was just excited to be out there and to have, you know, the opportunity to play in this kind of condition, prime time.
â€œYou know, a night match, it’s always a very special occasion.Â The energy, when you step out on court also after the opening show, the stadium was almost full.Â So it was a lot of fun to go out there.
â€œBut, you know, still a bit nervous, too.â€
Duval grew up from some difficult circumstances. SheÂ was born in Florida and grew up in Haiti and as child was taken hostage by robbers along with her cousins. In 2010, her father was injured in Haitiâ€™s earthquake, buried under rubble but survived his injuries.
She feels that her life has helped her tennis: “It helped my tennis in the sense that in those circumstances, we were just saying: No matter how tough things get, you’re always going to get out of it.’ So in my tennis, that’s basically what I’ve been living by, no matter how down and out I am, I can get out of it.”
A giggling Duval said that Clijsters snapped a photo with Duval in the locker room Â after the match.
“I thought that was so nice, because I was the one that should be begging her for a picture,” said a joyful Duval said. “She’s definitely my idol.”
Clijsters, a three-time US Open Champion is playing her last US Open. Sheâ€™s retiring again at the end of the year. She had previously retired in 2007. She has won 22 straight US Open matches.
Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.