Fri, Jan 06, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Clijsters reaches semis at Brisbane

AP and AFP, BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA

Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters advanced to the semi--finals of the Brisbane International with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Iveta Benesova yesterday.

Clijsters won the Brisbane title in 2010 and, after missing last year’s edition, now has an 8-0 record in the Australian Open tuneup.

She raced to a 5-0 lead before Benesova, who ousted US Open champion Sam Stosur in the second round, launched a comeback with a run of three straight games.

Benesova held her opening serve and had an early break-point chance in the second set before Clijsters shifted up a gear and dominated the remainder of the match to earn a semi-final meeting against Daniela Hantuchova, who got a walkover in the quarter-finals when 13-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams withdrew from the tournament on Wednesday after injuring her left ankle.

Clijsters had a tough three-set win over Ana Ivanovic in the second round, but did not let Benesova get too close in the quarter-finals.

“I’m very satisfied with the way that I played,” Clijsters said. “In my previous match, I lost my focus a bit. I was really focused on not letting that happen today.”

Third-seeded Francesca Schiavone will meet Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in the other women’s semi-final.

Schiavone saved two match points before coming back for a 5-7, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 win over former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic.

The 2010 French Open winner saved match points on her serve in the 12th game of the second set and then, after winning the tiebreaker and going down a break in the third set, won the last five games to clinch a quarter-final berth in just under three hours on her third match point.

Kanepi needed five match points to finish off a 6-1, 7-6 (9/7) win over second-seeded Andrea Petkovic.

“I just played really bad in the first set,” Petkovic said. “My footwork was very sloppy, and afterward I started moving a little better, but when somebody is hitting as hard as Kaia — and she was serving incredible — then you -really have to be on point with your footwork. She played really, really well and I have to say, if she keeps playing like this, she’ll be a force.”

In the men’s singles, Frenchman Gilles Simon continued his low-key run with a solid 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 quarter-final win over Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo yesterday.

Second seed Simon lost to Giraldo in the first round in Brisbane last year, but was too consistent for the Colombian this time in a match lasting two hours.

Simon has now won three matches this week without dropping a set and looks in better shape than top seed Andy Murray, who has struggled to win his matches.

The Frenchman, ranked 12th in the world, struggled on serve at times throughout the match, but was able to break Giraldo at key moments and played a solid tiebreaker to take an early advantage.

He then held off the Colombian to advance to the final four and a showdown against either former champion Radek Stepanek or Alexandr Dolgopolov.

“I think we played a high level from the very first game,” Simon said of his match with Giraldo. “It was difficult, but I think I was stronger than him physically and finally he started to miss a lot. I got some easy points at times and I felt that I had more opportunities than him. I won the tiebreak and I think it is always important to win the tiebreak when you’ve been playing for more than an hour. After I won the tiebreak I felt more comfortable.”

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