The Australian Open Women’s semifinal match between No. 2-ranked Vera Zvonareva and No. 3-ranked Kim Clijsters looked like an epic battle, on paper. Clijsters won the U.S. Open last September, while Zvonareva was aiming for her third grand slam final in a row.
On the court, the match played out rather differently. Belgium's Kim Clijsters blew past her Russian opponent in two sets 6–3, 6–3.
I tried really hard every point,” Clijsters told ESPN. “I knew that I had to today. Vera is a tough player—I played some really tough matches against her last year, I lost to her a couple of times, so I knew that I had to come out here and really be on top of my game, and really lift my level compared to the other matches I’ve played here so far.
“I really tried to focus on my tennis and tried to do what I do well out there and I tried to dictate the points and move around well and make my opponent go for that one extra shot every time.”
Kim Clijsters came out calm and in control, breaking Zvonareva in the first game. The Russian broke back, but Clijsters went on the win the set handily.
The second set mirrored the first, with Clijsters getting the early break. Zvonareva fought back to hold serve at love in the fifth game, and earned three break points in the sixth.
Zvonareva then missed two shots, giving up four straight points, losing the game and pretty much losing her last chance to save the set.
Statistically, the match looked even: Clijsters scored 63 percent on her first serves, versus Zvonareva’s 65 percent; Clijsters had two aces and two double faults, Zvonareva one each. The only difference: Clijsters hit 18 winners and 18 unforced errors, while Zvonareva had 14 and 21 respectively.
This last stat tells the difference: Clijsters was able to get shots past Zvonareva, while the Russian either couldn’t return the favor.
It took Clijsters only 73 minutes to win the match, earning her the No. 2 ranking and a spot in the final against No. 9-ranked Li Na of China who upset top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark earlier in the day.
Remember that switch I was talking about the other day?.
How I was waiting for Kim to flip it and dominate?. Well she did just that!.
Zvonareva always seems to bring out the best in Kim. I don't know what it is I think Clijsters is a bit like Federer in a way she only raises her game when faced with the toughest opponents.
She played the most solid match since her first one in the tournament where she bageled Safina.
She served better then she has all tournament long, cut down on the unforced errors, kept her concentration throughout.
She also seemed more calm and composed (sometimes once things don't go her way her entire game gets really erratic). Not this time.
She raised her level of play knowing it would be required if she wanted to make it through.
At one point in the second set there were shades of the U.S. Open final. That's not to say that Zvonareva played badly quite the opposite.
She was much more impressive here in the semis then at the U.S. Open final where she imploded. Kim just outplayed her again.
Li Na will be Clijsters opponent in the final.
Clijsters will get a chance for a bit of revenge, or redemption if you will Li Na beat her in the finals of a tune up tournament prior to the Aussie Open in Sydney (where she was actually leading 5-0 in the first set!).
If Kim plays the way she did today though there's no doubt in my mind she'll be the one holding the trophy on Saturday. Good luck Kim!.