After the year she's had, a lopsided loss to Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open is an event Kirsten Flipkens can keep in perspective.
Nine months ago, Flipkens flew from a tournament in Thailand to her native Belgium and stepped off the plane with extreme pain in her calf. She went to a doctor and was told she had blood clots in both legs.
''My life could have been over,'' the 27-year-old Flipkens said after her 6-1, 6-0 fourth-round loss to French Open champion Sharapova on Sunday.
''I found out only two days before I left for Fed Cup to Japan,'' she said. ''The doctor told me, `If you would have stepped on the plane, there would have been a chance that you would have come out blue.''' It was the doctor's way of telling Flipkens that it could have been fatal.
That wasn't the end of the bad news. A couple weeks after the blood clots were discovered, she said, the Belgian Tennis Federation cut off her funding. She took two months off to recover, during which time her ranking ...