Sports


Clijsters advances to semis

TUESDAY, JAN. 24, 2012

Defending champion eliminates Wozniacki

MELBOURNE, Australia – Kim Clijsters is moving on, and Caroline Wozniacki is moving out of the top spot.

Clijsters continued her Australian Open title defense with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) quarterfinal win that will cost Wozniacki the No. 1 ranking.

The four-time major winner next plays third-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who had a 6-7 (0), 6-0, 6-2 win over No. 8 Agnieszka Radwanska earlier Tuesday to move into the semis of a Grand Slam for the second time.

Azarenka is one of three players who can pass Wozniacki, who needed to reach the semifinals to retain the top ranking.

The 21-year-old Danish player has finished the last two seasons at No. 1 but has never won a major, prompting criticism of how the rankings system works.

Clijsters has slipped to No. 14 since beating Li Na in the last Australian final, losing in the second round at the French Open and then missing the next two majors due to injuries.

She also had a roller-coaster ride into the Australian Open semis for the seventh time after spraining her ankle and having to save four match points in a fourth-round win over Li.

Clijsters and Wozniacki both started nervously, with three service breaks to start the match. But the 28-year-old Belgian dictated play from her first hold in the fourth game until she was serving for the match at 5-3 in the second.

She had the rally on her racket at 30-30 but let her guard down and allowed Wozniacki back into the match. Wozniacki won the next two points to break Clijsters, and then held to get it back on level terms.

Clijsters had never lost any of her eight previous tiebreakers at Melbourne Park, and she hit a backhand down the line to take a 5-4 lead. She set up double match point with a cross-court forehand winner and sealed it with a volley.

“It definitely didn’t feel like being up a set and 5-2,” Clijsters said. “I had to work really hard for it. Caroline is a great fighter.

“I was happy to get through, and not in a three-setter because it’s so hot,” she said.

The crowd at Rod Laver Arena was solidly behind Clijsters from the start, shouting “C’mon Kimmie” in between nearly every point and cheering when Wozniacki missed a shot.



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