Clijsters earns a spot in the semifinals

MELBOURNE, Australia - Kim Clijsters moved into an Australian Open semifinal showdown with No. 2-ranked Vera Zvonareva, beating Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 7-6 (4) as air force planes flew in formation overhead as part of celebrations for the national day.
Cannons went off earlier when Zvonareva started the Australia Day proceedings at Rod Laver Arena with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Petra Kvitova.
In the other quarterfinals, Caroline Wozniacki beat Francesca Schiavone 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 , and Li Na defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-4 in the other.
Three-time U.S. Open champion Clijsters is seeking her first major outside of America and to return to the final at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2004, when she lost the championship match to fellow Belgian Justine Henin.
Zvonareva has never won a Grand Slam title, losing the last two finals to Clijsters in New York and to Serena Williams at Wimbledon.
Wozniacki is through to her first Australian Open semifinal and the top-ranked Dane will next meet Li, who made the semis last year. Li lost to eventual champion Serena Williams last year, and is growing in confidence.
Wozniacki showed plenty of belief, coming back from a set and a break down to defeat Schiavone, the French Open champion who is seeded sixth. Schiavone had reached the last eight after beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets in 4 hours, 44 minutes, the longest Grand Slam women's singles match on record.
"Maybe in the third set I felt a little bit something physically, but it's not an excuse," Schiavone said.
On the men's side, Roger Federer is reluctant for now to talk about possibly playing Rafael Nadal in the final, and with good reason.
After all, he's playing Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
Federer and Nadal have dominated the Grand Slam tennis, winning 21 of the past 23 titles. But Djokovic is dangerous, and Federer knows his one-match-at-a-time mantra is sound strategy.
"He takes it to the opponent," Federer said.
Federer routed Stanislas Wawrinka 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday in the first all-Swiss quarterfinal at a major. Djokovic eliminated Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych 6-1, 7-6 (5), 6-1 in the night match.
It was at this stage of the 2008 Australian Open that Djokovic beat Federer before going on to win his first and only Grand Slam singles title. Federer also lost to Djokovic after having two match points in the U.S. Open semifinals last September. It was a lapse that cost Federer.
"I was playing good enough to win," Federer said. "But I was a bit confused mentally, maybe, because we played the second session. ... Maybe I just felt like I have to get out of this match as quick as I could to save energy to play Rafa the next day. I think it ended up hurting me losing the match at the end."
It ended a sequence for Federer of six consecutive finals appearances in New York.
And then Djokovic lost to Nadal in the final, giving the Spaniard his first U.S. Open title. That set him on the path toward his "Rafa Slam" - Nadal is aiming to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major titles at once.
Federer has twice won three consecutive majors, only to be deprived by Nadal - both times at the French Open.
Federer won the Australian crown by defeating Murray in straight sets in the final.
Now he's aiming to be only the second man to win five Australian titles - Roy Emerson won six.
He lost the 2009 Australian final to Nadal, and didn't even make the championship match the previous year, when he entered the tournament as the two-time defending champ.
Federer was slowed by mononucleosis in 2008, and Djokovic capitalized.
"If I look back, I think Novak played another good match. He was very confident. He played a great tournament, which he also ended up winning," Federer said. "Both times he beat me, he played really well."
Federer has a 13-6 record against Djokovic and has won the last three since the U.S. Open. He has also won four of their six Grand Slam contests - but those two wins by Djokovic have been in big matches.




Sat, 12/16/2017 - 00:27

Friday’s prep box scores

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 00:03

Aiken thrives with team-first mentality