Clijsters beats Davenport to set up clash with Venus

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Defending champion Kim Clijsters wore down American Lindsay Davenport 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the Bank of the West Classic final. Fourth seeded Clijsters wi

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Defending champion Kim Clijsters wore down American Lindsay Davenport 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the Bank of the West Classic final. Fourth seeded Clijsters will face top seed Venus Williams, who defeated Lisa Raymond earlier in the day, in the title match on Sunday. Second seeded Davenport, playing in her first tour event since November because of a serious knee injury, came out with confidence while Clijsters struggled to find her serve. Davenport took advantage, breaking the young Belgian in the first set after two double faults. Up 4-2 in the second set, Davenport suddenly lost her edge. Clijsters held serve to go up 5-4, then broke Davenport to win the set. Clijsters, ranked No 5, won seven straight games during the match as Davenport's frustration grew and she was unable to regain her early poise. Davenport injured her right knee last in the semifinals of the Sanex Championships against Clijsters. She had surgery in January. Venus powers on In the earlier all-American semifinal match at Taube Family Tennis Stadium, Williams overpowered unseeded Raymond 6-3, 6-0. Williams, ranked No 2 in the world behind her sister, Serena, hammered serves reaching 118 miles per hour to fluster Raymond, ranked No 28. "It's always pretty effective, but when it's really effective it's better for me. It makes the match a little easier," Williams said of her serve. With father Richard looking on, Williams sealed the first set with two consecutive aces, the first at 111 mph and the second at 110 mph. In the second set, Raymond held nothing back, laboring to hit winners from the baseline. But Williams was too much, wrapping up the match away in 51 minutes. Raymond remained calm throughout, raising her hands in victory when she won a rare point in the second set. The crowd responded with warm applause. "I think if I'd kept it a little closer I would have had a better chance," she said. At 28, Raymond is the oldest player in the semifinals. She won the title at Memphis earlier this year. She upset third seeded Monica Seles of the United States on Friday in the quarterfinals. Williams went up 4-0 in the second set with two aces and a service winner that Raymond couldn't handle. She finished the match with nine aces. Kournikova pulls out of tournament Meanwhile Russia's Anna Kournikova, who was defeated by Venus Williams in the quarter finals, was forced to withdraw from her doubles semifinal match on Saturday afternoon because of an abdominal strain. Kournikova and partner Meghann Shaughnessy were scheduled to play Raymond and Rennae Stubbs. Kournikova suffered the strain in practice Friday and aggravated it during her matches. She will be re-evaluated to determine her status for next week's Acura Classic in San Diego.(AP)

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