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Clijsters set to return at Rogers Cup with eye on U.S. Open

The Canadian Press

7/18/2011 5:09:33 PM

TORONTO -- Kim Clijsters has been hampered by injuries in 2011, but the Belgian tennis star sees the Rogers Cup as a chance to get back on track.

The 28-year-old is set to return to competitive tennis at Rexall Centre next month after battling two separate injuries in the wake of her first Australian Open championship.

And Clijsters says the Toronto tournament is a stepping stone in her preparations for the U.S. Open.

"In my situation now, every tournament where I decide to go, I want to have a good tournament," Clijsters said on a conference call Monday. "(The Rogers Cup) is going to be an important test when I get out there."

After beating Li Na 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to win the Aussie Open in January, Clijsters hurt her right ankle in April while dancing barefoot at her cousin's wedding.

Ranked No. 2 in the world behind Caroline Wozniacki, Clijsters was fit to play at the French Open this spring but wasn't sharp, losing in the second round.

The last time Clijsters was eliminated that early at a major was when she lost in the second round at Wimbledon in 2002.

The two-time defending U.S. Open champion then hurt the same foot last month at the Unicef Open in the Netherlands and missed Wimbledon.

"I twisted my foot not sideways, but forwards," Clijsters said, noting the injuries were not related. "So I stretched the front of my foot and I had a lot of bone bruising in the back of my heel and my leg that hit each other."

With many of the top players in the women's game scheduled to be in Toronto, Clijsters is eager to see how her foot and ankle hold up.

"I'm obviously going to have to pay attention if I have intense matches," the three-time U.S. Open champ said. "But I hope in the next three weeks I can get to Toronto without even worrying about my foot too much."

Clijsters defeated Justine Henin-Hardenne to win the Rogers Cup in 2005 in Toronto and says although the U.S. Open is on her mind, she approaches every tournament the same way.

"I'm going to Toronto because I want to do well in Toronto," Clijsters said. "We'll take it one tournament at a time and we'll see how I react and how I feel and how my tennis is going."

Clijsters watched 21-year-old Petra Kvitova's victory at Wimbledon while she was on the shelf and says women's tennis is at a generational crossroads that should make for a wide open Rogers Cup.

"We're in an interesting time in tennis where you get the older generation that was dominating tennis for so long (against the younger players)," Clijsters said. "It's nice to have both generations playing for a lot of the big titles now."