Clijsters faces Henin in Brisbane final

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Kim Clijsters confirmed a highly anticipated all-Belgian final against Justine Henin with a victory over Andrea Petkovic on Friday at the Brisbane International

Updated: January 09, 2010 14:04 IST
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Kim Clijsters confirmed a highly anticipated all-Belgian final against Justine Henin with a victory over Andrea Petkovic on Friday at the Brisbane International.

Top-seeded Clijsters beat the 22-year-old German 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals, hours after seven-time Grand Slam title winner Henin secured a spot in the final of her first tournament since returning from retirement.

Henin, who advanced 6-3, 6-2 over 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, leads Clijsters 12-10 in career head-to-heads after winning their last three meetings _ all in 2006.

"I don't think anybody, not even in Belgium, anywhere in the world, expected this would ever happen again," Clijsters said. "It's nice to be a part of this new kind of Belgian tennis final again."

Henin quit in May 2008 when she held the No. 1 ranking. She announced her comeback last September, soon after 26-year-old Clijsters won the U.S. Open in her third tournament back after more than two years in retirement.

"It's always special when I play Kim. It's a day I like a lot," Henin said of a final against Clijsters. "It's a perfect situation to play if it's a Belgian final. That's what a lot of people hoped for and expected.

"We've had a lot of great fights over the years. But a lot of things happened to her, a lot of things happen to me. It's going to be a different situation.

"Of course, I want to win this tournament now. Let's see."

During her time off the tour, Clijsters got married and had a child. Unranked and unseeded at New York in September, she become the first mother to win a major since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980.

She only played one tournament between the U.S. Open and Brisbane and was expecting a "big challenge" against Henin on Saturday night.

"We've always made each other better players," she said. "Hopefully, we can bring another good match here."

Henin had some trouble with her first serve but otherwise was too consistent for third-seeded Ivanovic, who was playing her first tournament since September.

The 27-year-old Belgian said she'd already achieved beyond her expectations as a wild card entrant in the first of her Australian Open tuneup events.

"Perfect situation for me, I'm the final of my first tournament back _ it's amazing," Henin said. "It is a surprise, of course, because it's not as easy as it seems maybe on the court ... 18 months without competition, it's not that easy.

"I didn't know what to expect but it's more than what I could expect for. Now it's only a bonus to be here at this stage of the tournament, and it's what I needed also."

In the men's quarterfinals, fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych held off eighth-seeded Thomas Bellucci of Brazil 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (3). Top-seeded Andy Roddick had a night match Friday against Richard Gasquet of France.

Defending champion Radek Stepanek is already into the semis after beating American Wayne Odesnik 7-6 (2), 6-1 on Thursday. He'll play third-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils, who rallied to beat James Blake 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 after the veteran American saved three match points.

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