Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kim Clijsters into the semis at Melbourne with a bit of a struggle

Vera Zvonareva and Kim Clijsters have set up a semi-final re-match of last year's US Open final with straight-forward wins in their respective Australian Open quarter-final matches on Wednesday.

No.2 seed Zvonareva, a finalist at the past two Grand Slam events, dominated the first match capitalising on the nerves of her opponent, Czech No.25 seed Petra Kvitova, to win 6-2 6-4.

It was a similarly comfortable time for the third seed Clijsters, Zvonareva's conqueror at Flushing Meadows last year, as she banished Polish No.12 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

Having made her fifth Australian Open semi-finals, Clijsters looks well-placed to claim her fourth Grand Slam title as the only previous winner of a major tournament left in the women's draw.

In the second match, Clijsters took control of the first set with breaks in the third and fifth games. 

The Belgian was taking all the risks and getting the rewards, despite Radwanska pulling back a break, and when she broke her for the fourth time, she had wrapped up the first set in just 29 minutes.

Radwanska dug in for the fight early in the second set, but was unable to capitalise when holding 15-40 on Clijsters serve in the first game. 

The Belgian continued to attack and took a 4-2 lead only for Radwanska to reel off breaks in the seventh and ninth games to have the set on her racquet.

But the 21-year-old Pole was unable to close that out and the set went to a tie-breaker, where Clijsters' experience in the big matches came to the fore. 

With things evenly poised at 5-4, she upped the power and forced Radwanska into successive errors to claim the match in 94 minutes.

The 2004 finalist will feel she has plenty of improvement left in her game after making 37 unforced errors to Radwanska's 13 and being broken four times for the match.

It will be the third Grand Slam in a row that Clijsters and Zvonareva have met, with the pair having split their meetings last year in the Wimbledon quarters and the US Open final. 

Clijsters holds a 6-3 edge on head to head, but Zvonareva won their last meeting in Doha late last year.

It's hard to describe this match really.  It was so topsy turvy it's a wonder I didn't get whiplash :D.  Back to back breaks in the first 3 games. Not a stellar start.

I'm still waiting for Kim to flip that switch and really dominate like I know she can at this point in the tournament.  Instead she's still playing really patchy tennis.  This match really was Clijsters to win or lose.

With as many breaks as she had against Radwanska she should have steam rolled.

Rather then making things easy for herself every time she was ahead, she kept gifting Radwanska with chances to break even and get back into the match.

It was a really off day for Clijsters as she herself admitted saying her legs felt heavy in the post-match interview.  But she managed to pull through despite it all.

And I suppose when you get right down to it that is the most important thing.

Hopefully she can scrap this performance, and start fresh playing better in the next one.  And she will  have to raise her game at least 80% if she wants to get past Vera Zvonareva who's playing unbelievably at the moment.

The last time these two played Kim blew her off the court.  Nerves getting the better of Zvonareva.

I'm not so sure that will be the case this time.  Although Kim's experience will undoubtedly help her.  The question remaining is will that be enough?.

Hopefully this next match will be a little more exciting because so far aside from Francesca Schiavone's matches the men are far superior over the women on that front.

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