Sun, Oct 19, 2003 - Page 22 News List

Henin-Hardenne, Clijsters advance

AP , ZURICH, SWITZERLAND

Jelena Dokic reacts during her quarterfinal match against Patty Schnyder of Switzerland at the Swisscom Challenge Tennis Tournament in Kloten, Switzerland, Friday.

PHOTO: AP

Justine Henin-Hardenne needed five match points to overcome Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 6-2, while Kim Clijsters had an easier time in the Swisscom Challenge quarterfinals Friday.

"It was a good match. I fought hard," world No. 2 Henin-Hardenne said. "I had to be very solid, much more solid than the score reflected. I haven't played this well since winning at the US Open.

"A match like this is good for the rest of the tournament."

Top-seeded Clijsters beat Slovenian qualifier Tina Pisnik 6-3, 6-2 in their quarterfinal.

In Saturday's semis, Henin-Hardenne will face Nadia Petrova, who beat Russian compatriot Elena Bovina 6-1, 6-4.

Clijsters will meet Jelena Dokic, who trounced defending champion Patty Schnyder 6-0, 6-3 in just 48 minutes.

Clijsters threw a scare late Friday during a doubles match when she crashed into the net and fell while chasing a ball. She was examined by a trainer, kept playing, and she and Ai Sugiyama, the top seeds, rallied to beat Elena Likhovtseva and Conchita Martinez 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Henin-Hardenne, who has not lost any match before the quarterfinals this year, dominated seventh-seeded Zvonareva, but had trouble finishing off the Russian.

"It wasn't easy to conclude the match," said Henin-Hardenne, who could become world No.1 for the first time of her career if she wins the title Sunday. "She is a great fighter and maybe I wasn't patient enough."

She needed four break points to take her opponent's serve for the first time at 3-3, then saved a break point at 5-4, before closing the set with a pair of breathtaking shots.

The Belgian broke Zvonareva's opening serve to go up 2-0 when she sent the Russian staggering across court with a stunning blast down the line.

Henin-Hardenne broke again at 3-1, but only on the last of three break points. She squandered her first two match points at 5-1. Then, when she was serving for the match, the Belgian needed three more before finally sealing the victory.

"It was maybe difficult for her to finish the points because I didn't want to give up," said 12th-ranked Zvonareva, who hoped to make the alternates list for the year-end WTA Championships.

Clijsters' serve was near perfect against Pisnik in the opening set -- she lost just three points on serve.

She made the only break of the first set with a beautiful crosscourt winner to go ahead 3-1, but her concentration wavered in the second set. After trading early breaks, Clijsters made the decisive break at 3-2 when Pisnik sent her usually exemplary backhand into the net. Clijsters registered another service game to love, before breaking again to go 5-2, smashing a moonball by Pisnik.

"The beginning of the second set wasn't pretty," Clijsters said. "I had to refocus, work my way back into the match. She can be a tricky player."

Dokic's victory over Schynder marked the first time since March she has had three successive wins.

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