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Archive for Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Clijsters stops Hingis in three sets

Top-seeded Sharapova awaits in Australian semifinals

January 24, 2007

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— Kim Clijsters had another quarterfinal win over Martina Hingis despite a rash of unforced errors, and moved into the Australian Open semifinals against top-seeded Maria Sharapova.

Fourth-seeded Clijsters won, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, today, breaking Hingis' serve in the last game and ending the match with a forehand passing shot.

"I wasn't really seeing the ball, the only thing you can do is to work for every point to try to turn things around," said Clijsters, who made 62 unforced errors and dropped serve five times. "I knew it was going to be a tough one. It could have been my last match here, so I'm glad to have one more."

Clijsters ended Hingis' remarkable comeback run here in the quarterfinals last year, when the Swiss star was returning from three years off the circuit because of injuries.

Hingis had won three straight titles from 1997-99 and then lost three consecutive finals before quitting the first time.

Clijsters has made the semifinals here on every trip since 2002 - missing the 2005 tournament because of injuries - but has never won the title. The 23-year-old Belgian said she will retire at the end of this season.

Sharapova advanced to the Australian Open semifinals for the third straight year with a 7-6 (5), 7-5 win over Anna Chakvetadze, another 19-year-old Russian.

The top-seeded Sharapova, assured of gaining the No. 1 ranking next month, had trouble on her serve, double-faulting on break point three times.

But she had the only point on serve in the tiebreaker, where the last eight points finished on unforced errors.

Kim Clijsters returns a shot during her quarterfinal match in the Australian Open. Clijsters defeated Martina Hingis, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, today in Melbourne, Australia.

Kim Clijsters returns a shot during her quarterfinal match in the Australian Open. Clijsters defeated Martina Hingis, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, today in Melbourne, Australia.

The U.S. Open champion was broken when serving for the match at 5-3 and wasted a match point with a backhand error in the next game.

Sharapova got two more match points in the 12th game and finished it off in two hours, 14 minutes when Chakvetadze netted a forehand.

"It was very difficult, I didn't feel like we had a lot of easy rallies," Sharapova said. "I felt I had to work on every point."

Sharapova was very inconsistent, smacking clean winners to take one game, then committing glaring mistakes to lose the next. She finished with 32 winners but six double faults and 41 unforced errors and won only three more points than her opponent.

Sharapova, who looks toward her father, Yuri, sitting in the stands after almost every point, got a warning for getting coaching from him as she served at 0-30 with the score tied at 2-2 in the second set. She then ran off four straight points to take the game.

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