They may be old friends, but it did not stop Kim Clijsters delivering fellow comeback queen Alicia Molik a sobering reality check at the Brisbane International on Tuesday.
In her first WTA tournament since her surprise retirement, a shellshocked Molik was thrashed 6-0 6-3 in just 60 minutes by the merciless Belgian in their much-hyped second-round clash.
The 28-year-old Australian hope had been riding high following her gritty Brisbane International opening round win – her first WTA victory in two years since coming out of retirement.
In an organiser’s dream, Molik set up a quarterfinal qualifier with old chum Clijsters, another on the comeback trail.
But it quickly became a nightmare for former world No.8 Molik whose friendship with Clijsters clearly earned her no favours.
The world No.18 dominated from the outset, taking the first set in 25 minutes against her former doubles partner on her way to winning the first eight games.
Molik looked every bit the world No.198 alongside the 26-year-old, but did receive a roar from the crowd when she finally held her serve in the ninth game of the second set.
That sparked a mini-comeback by Molik who again held serve before breaking the Belgian she has known since the age of 14 in the sixth game to lock it up 3-3.
However, former world No.1 Clijsters was in no mood to tolerate a comeback, breaking back immediately – and for the fifth time overall – before finally closing out the match in an hour.
There were similarities between the blondes before they took the court on Tuesday night.
Like Clijsters, Molik had spent more than a year out of the game and announced her comeback midway through 2009.
But their returns could not be more different.
Molik came back via low-tier tournaments around Australia while her dear friend famously won the US Open in just her third event back.
And the difference between their on-court form could not have been more stark on Tuesday.
While a clinical Clijsters hit crisp winners, Molik sabotaged herself with unforced errors.
Perhaps fittingly Clijsters clinched victory when Molik’s forehand went long – yet another mistake by the outclassed Australian.