Clijsters confident of defending US Open crown

Clijsters confident of defending US Open crown New York: Kim Clijsters won her only two Grand Slam titles at her past two US Open starts and hopes she can summon up the magic for a charmed third time as others have struggled with injuries.

The 27-year-old Belgian captured her first Grand Slam at the 2005 US Open and did not return for the Flushing Meadows fortnight until last year, when she won the title in only her second tournament after a hiatus to start a family.

"My attitude isn't any different compared to last year," Clijsters said.

"Obviously last year had probably a few more unanswered questions but this year I know what I have to do if I want to try and do as well as I did last year."

Second seed Clijsters has put in the effort, adding a Cincinnati crown earlier this month in a key US Open tuneup to titles won earlier this year at Brisbane and Miami to make herself a favorite again.

"I'm excited to be back and to defend my title," Clijsters said. "I don't feel any more pressure. Pressure is a good thing. Pressure is a sign of why they are putting you into the spot of one of the favorites."

Last year, Clijsters was able to frolic on the court with her daughter and celebrate with her husband in a memorable trophy ceremony. The emotional memories came flooding back over her as she returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"You relive the details a little more, the things you forgot faster than the title and the celebration," Clijsters said. "It's the little things when you come back you pick up a little more. They make it nice."

This time, world number one Serena Williams is out with a right foot injury and her sister, US third seed Venus Williams, has not played since Wimbledon because of a left knee sprain.

Belgian veteran Justine Henin is out with an injury and the woman Clijsters beat in last year's US Open final, Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, is now the top seed just ahead of Clijsters.

"She is a great player," Clijsters said of Wozniacki. "You don't get there by luck. She definitely deserves to be up there."

Clijsters, who opens against Hungary's Greta Arn, also is not discounting such rivals as Serbian fourth seed Jelena Jankovic and a possible quarter-final foe, Australian fifth seed Samantha Stosur.

"Obviously there are a lot of other players who have as big a chance as anybody to win this year," Clijsters said. "It's a very interesting US Open this year."

Bureau Report