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Clijsters the mastermind as Stosur is felled early . . .

AMELIE MAURESMO, eat your heart out.

Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium celebrates her win over Australia's Samantha Stosur yesterday. Picture: EPA
Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium celebrates her win over Australia's Samantha Stosur yesterday. Picture: EPA

Kim Clijsters was another high-profile female star of the last decade or so who was celebrating conspicuous coaching success at Wimbledon yesterday.

The four-time grand slam winner is working with her countrywoman Yanina Wickmayer at this year's Wimbledon and that trademark smile of hers was in evidence on Court No.3 as she watched No.17 seed Samantha Stosur, of Australia, tumble out of the tournament in double quick time.

It is fair to say this patch of south-west London has never been the happiest of hunting grounds for the 30-year-old Queenslander. The 2011 US Open winner and 2010 French Open finalist has yet to progress beyond the third round here in 12 visits, no fewer than half of which have been ended at the first hurdle.

Her own coaching situation did not exactly help, entering the event just days after dispensing with the services of Miles Maclagan, the Zambian-born Scot who previously coached both Andy Murray and Laura Robson.

Stosur abandoned her serve in the very first game as she went down without a whimper, by a 6-3, 6-4 scoreline. While she refused to blame the matter on her abrupt change of coach, it is a defeat which seems fairly certain to lead to a further period of soul-searching.

"I had some really great practices and I felt really good going into the match," she said. "So I'm pretty annoyed about it, to be honest. I don't have an answer because I do feel I played well. I think she played well and she stuck to it right from first point to last point. I still think I'm a good enough player to get through first rounds here, but for whatever reasons it's not happening."

The World No.69, on the other hand, reflected upon a perfectly executed plan, even if Clijsters never made it beyond the semi-finals at this venue. "This was one of the best matches I've played this year," said the 24-year-old, who had previously been ranked in the world's top dozen.

"I felt really confident out there, and tried to really focus on being aggressive from the first point when she served. I'm really happy about the way I played."

The other high-profile faller of the day was Sloane Stephens, ranked one spot further out in the world rankings but a grand slam semi-finalist as recently as last year's Australian Open. Also a quarter-finalist here last year, Stephens crashed out 6-2, 7-6 (6) to Russia's Maria Kirilenko, snapping a lengthy streak of reaching the second round of grand slams.

It made her summer only marginally worse than that of her old school pal from Boca Raton Prep School, Florida. That would be Jozy Altidore, the Sunderland centre-forward, who snapped a hamstring in the USA's opening match at the World Cup.

"I'm sad my streak is broken," said Stephens. "It feels like the end of the world now, but fortunately it's not. Hopefully it will be the last time I lose the first round of a slam, hopefully I don't have to live through that again. Sometimes you got to be a big girl and just work through all the things that are troubling you."

Stephens memorably took the scalp of her countrywoman Serena Williams on that Australian Open run, and she was joined on the flight home yesterday by another with recent experience of beating the greatest player of her generation. Garbine Murguruza, the 20-year-old Spaniard who memorably dismissed Williams in straight sets at Roland Garros, succumbed 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to Coco Vandeweghe of the USA.

Other seeds, however, experienced significantly less trouble. Australian Open champion Li Na, the No.2 seed, was a comfortable 7-5, 6-2 winner against qualifier Paula Kania of Poland while Slovakia's Dominkia Cibulkova, her final opponent in Melbourne in January, sailed through 6-1, 6-2 against Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada. Venus Williams survived the loss of the second set on a let cord in a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory against Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor of Spain, while 2011 winner Petra Kvitova defeated her countrywoman Andrea Hlavackova 6-3, 6-0.

Perhaps most ominously of all, Victoria Azarenka, No.8 seed and a double grand slam winner, fit again after the foot injury which kept her out of Roland Garros, sailed through 6-3, 7-5 against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia. "I'm just very happy to be able to play," she said. "This is what I love to do."

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