Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kim Clijsters powers into Sydney semis

January 13, 2011 - 1:49AM


Kim Clijsters showed why a maiden Australian Open title looks to be within reach after a dominant display on Wednesday night took her into the Sydney International semi-finals.

The world No.3 had too much artillery for Victoria Azarenka, downing the Belarusian 6-3 6-2.
Clijsters, a sentimental favourite on these shores after a long relationship with Lleyton Hewitt, is starting to look like a short-priced favourite to capture the women's crown and her first major trophy outside the US.
With no Serena Williams at Melbourne Park and the sketchy early season form of other grand slam suitors such as Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva and Sam Stosur, Clijsters and compatriot Justine Henin are warming as the women most likely at Melbourne Park.

The only problem the third-seeded Belgian appeared to have on Wednesday night was the swirling winds in Ken Rosewall Arena, some untimely double faults giving her opponent the briefest of sighters in a match Clijsters otherwise completely controlled.

The 27-year-old was in devastating touch from the baseline, her deep groundstrokes quickly putting Azarenka on the back foot.

She raced to a 5-1 lead before briefly allowing Azarenka back into the set, then closed out the second with two breaks.

Clijsters said the match was a little deceptive with Azarenka only winning two of 14 break points - both of which came when the Belgian double faulted.
"I think the score definitely sounds a lot easier than it was," she said.

"Even when I was up 3-0 in that first set it was close, I think we both started at a pretty high level - I think I played the important points a little bit better."

As for her growing favouritism to win the Australia Open, Clijsters said she it hadn't even considered it.

"I don't think about it like that at all, it's something that is kind of put on you from the outside and it doesn't change anything in my mind," she said.

"I am very happy with the preparation that I've had and have worked hard in the off-season and that's the only thing I can do from my side."

Clijsters will play Alisa Kleybanova in the other semi-final on Thursday after the Russian downed Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 5-7 6-2 in the late match.


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