Friday, January 14, 2011
Clijsters one win from number 2.
Kim Clijsters overcame the suspect tactics and explosive power game of Russian opponent Alisa Kleybanova to show why she is favourite for the Australian Open.
Clijsters defeated the Kleybanova 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-1) in a high-quality, marathon 158-minute battle, which included two injury time-outs from the world No. 25, as Clijsters patiently waited on the sidelines.
Kleybanova had the world No.3 rattled at times with her unusual style and frequent gamesmanship. Clijsters trailed 4-2 in the final set, and twice had to serve to stay in the match before running away with the final set tiebreaker.
Clijsters later admitted she struggled with Kleybanova's ''unpredictable'' game, after losing to the Russian in their only previous encounter at Indian Wells last year.
Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge described the epic as one of the best women's matches he'd seen all year...yeah I'll let you figure that one out!
Kleybanova had several injury time outs, but the crowd couldn't see the importance of them and so the crowd boisterously started supporting Clijsters at this point, with one male voice telling Kleybanova to ''get on with it''.
Clijsters will now move to world No.2 if she wins the final against world No. 11 Li Na, who dispatched Serbian teenager Bojana Jovanovski 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in the other semi-final.
The match increasingly became a shootout as it wore on, with 83 winners between the two players and 61 unforced errors.
The win cements her favouritism for Melbourne next week, with Clijsters taking her unblemished record in WTA semi-finals to 13-0 since her comeback from retirement in 2009.
Clijsters said the match was a welcome challenge, after a succession of convincing wins this week in Sydney.