Star Belgian duo Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin were both forced to three sets before winning their quarter-finals at the Brisbane International yesterday.
Clijsters beat Czech Lucie Safarova 6-1, 0-6, 6-4 while Henin outlasted seventh seeded Hungarian Melinda Czink 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5).
Top seed Clijsters now faces German surprise packet Andrea Petkovic for a place in tomorrow’s final and Henin plays third seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.
Clijsters needed four match points to see off Safarova, who looked all at sea as she surrendered the first set in just 23 minutes.
But the Czech came out with all guns blazing in the second, blasting winners from all over the court and forcing Clijsters into a host of errors.
In an intriguing third set, Clijsters broke in the fifth game and held on for the win.
She said while she was able to dominate the first set, it was a different story after that.
“I felt like in the second set even before I had the chance to work my way into the rally, she’d already hit a winner most of the time,” Clijsters said.
“Thinking back on it now, maybe I should have taken a little more risks at times, but I think the difference for her in the first set to the way she played in the second was so big it kind of surprised me at the time,” she said.
Henin’s match followed a similar pattern to Clijsters’ as she won the first set comfortably, lost the second then fought off a tenacious Czink to claim the third.
Henin needed a shade over two hours, 20 minutes to book her place in the final four but said she had recovered well from playing three matches in a row.
“I feel better today, much better [than yesterday],” Henin said.
“It was a long match and mentally it was very difficult but physically I feel much better. I am an old woman of 27,” she joked.
Ivanovic survived her own second set meltdown to squeeze past Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 7-6 (8-6).
Meanwhile, unseeded German Andrea Petkovic stunned fourth seed Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 on Wednesday.
Arriving at her post-match press conference largely unknown, the 22-year-old proceeded to give a wide-ranging interview.
Petkovic said she wants to start a political party to raise awareness of the problems facing German youth.
In 2008 Petkovic tore her cruciate ligament in her knee and was out of action for a year. During her time away from the tour she worked as an intern at the Hessian State Parliament and it was during this period she decided she would one day launch her own party.
“In Germany we have this great social state and the young people pay the pensions of the old people, and because we have 20 million old people now and not enough employees who are paying the pensions, we have a big problem,” she said.
“The companies are not giving fixed [permanent] jobs to the young people — they are giving internships, they are saying ‘okay work one year we’ll see what happens,’” Petkovic said.
“So it’s also affecting family politics because people aren’t having families any more, they are just trying to live day by day because they have no security,” she said.
“And the voters, they are all old, and the young people somehow crawl their way out of politics — they are not interested anymore and I just want to raise attention,” Petkovic said.
“I’m sure this party will not be one that will be in government but I’m sure it may raise some attention for the problems of the young people,” she said.
In the women’s doubles quarter-finals Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan and Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia and Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-1.
AFP, PERTH, AUSTRALIA
Spain advanced to the Hopman Cup final with a 3-0 win over Australia in their Group A tie yesterday.
The host nation needed to win all three rubbers in the tie in straight sets to snatch a spot in tomorrow’s final of the mixed teams tournament from the Spanish pairing of Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Tommy Robredo, but the task proved well beyond them.
It took Martinez Sanchez just 41 minutes to snuff out Australian hopes, securing a fourth final appearance for Spain when she took the first set off Samantha Stosur.
They take peak form into the final, having not dropped a single rubber in their three group ties.
Stosur capitulated meekly in the second set to hand Martinez Sanchez a 6-4, 6-1 win.
Robredo was in sparkling form against Lleyton Hewitt, who appeared to be slightly troubled by a lower back problem and sought treatment at the end of the first set.
Although the Australian improved in the second set, he had no answer to the Robredo forehand and the Spaniard won 6-2, 6-4.
The Spanish then claimed the dead mixed doubles.
REUTERS, CHENNAI, INDIA
Holder Marin Cilic of Croatia needed nearly three hours to come from a set down to beat Spaniard Marcel Granollers 6-7 6-3 6-4 and reach the Chennai Open quarter-finals on Wednesday.
After losing the first set tiebreak 7-3, the Croatian came back strongly in the second set, breaking the Spaniard three times.
Cilic broke in the opening game of the third set but Granollers fought back to take a 3-2 lead, only for Cilic to regain the momentum.
In another match, fourth seed Janko Tipsarevic brushed aside India’s Somdev Devvarman 6-2, 6-1.
In second-round games yesterday Michael Berrer of Germany beat Stephane Robert of France 7-6(7), 6-3, Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko beat Robby Ginepri of the US 7-6(3), 6-4 and Israel’s Dudi Sela beat Kevin Kim of the US 7-6(3), 6-2.
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