Monday, January 24, 2011

Kim Clijsters battles into the quarters in Melbourne

(Reuters) - Third seed Kim Clijsters overcame the night chill and a sluggish start to beat Russia's Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 6-2 and march into the Australian Open quarter-finals on Monday.

The Belgian, a three-times grand slam champion and Melbourne runner-up in 2004, sealed a tough victory a little after midnight local time with a drilled backhand crosscourt.

"She was unpredictable," Clijsters told reporters. "I had to get a feel for it".

"In the second set I started being a bit more aggressive. I had to really step it up and finish it off," added the tournament favorite, who followed men's number one Rafa Nadal as the last match on Rod Laver Arena.

"I was very happy Rafa finished it off in three sets."

Clijsters squandered an early break gifted to her by a nervous Makarova and was forced to a first set tiebreak, which she took 7-3 on a cold evening in Melbourne.

Normal service resumed in the second set, although Clijsters needed to take anti-inflammatory pills for a tight hamstring in a minor scare.

However, she had already found the range with her heavier groundstrokes and broke the Russian twice to set up a clash with Polish 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

"At important moments, like in the tiebreak, she played unbelievable -- fighting for every point," said the 49th-ranked Makariva after her best grand slam run to date.

"I just have to go for every ball because if I wait for a mistake from her, I have no chance to win. She was better on the big points."


Unfortunately I was not able to see this match myself due to poor coverage by TSN again :(.  So I can't make a fair judgement on her performance.

But from what I've been able to find out Kim did alright.  Not spectacular, but just enough to win (which she has been doing pretty much the whole tournament).

Her last 2 U.S. Open's are testaments that sometimes that's all it takes.  Although I think if she wants to win she's gonna have to raise her game and stop making so many unforced errors.

Radwanska can be tricky, but I think she will be a able to get through that one in straights.

Honestly the only one who can really test her would be Zvonareva (assuming she handles the pressure of being in another Grand Slam final better then she did in last year's U.S. Open).

And maybe Li Na (seeing as she beat Clijsters in the tune up tournament in Sydney just prior to the Aussie Open).  Although I'm not sure she's in the same half as Clijsters if I'm wrong please correct me.

Good luck in the next round Kim!.

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