Clijsters powers into Open final

Updated: 27 January 2011 09:19 IST

Belgian triple Grand Slam-winner Kim Clijsters hit top form on Thursday as she thrashed Russian world number two Vera Zvonareva to reach her second Australian O

Clijsters powers into Open final

Melbourne :

Belgian triple Grand Slam-winner Kim Clijsters hit top form on Thursday as she thrashed Russian world number two Vera Zvonareva to reach her second Australian Open final.

The third seed lost to countrywoman Justine Henin here in 2004, but earned her chance at redemption with an impressive 6-3, 6-3 win in just 1hr 13min.

The US Open champion said she played her best tennis of the tournament to beat Zvonareva, less than 24 hours after Henin announced her retirement due to an elbow injury.

Clijsters will play ninth-seed Li Na in Saturday's final, after the 28-year-old became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam singles decider.

But Thursday's result meant more frustration for Zvonareva, who was a beaten finalist at the previous two Grand Slam finals, including September's US Open loss to Clijsters.

"Vera is a tough player and I knew it would be a tough match against her," Clijsters said. "I knew I had to be on top of my game and lift my level compared to my other matches. I was able to rise to the occasion."

It is just Clijsters' second Australian Open since retiring in 2008 to start a family, but she enjoys strong Australian support since being engaged to local star Lleyton Hewitt, earning the nickname "Aussie Kim".

She returned to the sport in 2009, after the birth of daughter Jada Ellie Lynch the previous year, and stunned the tennis world by winning her second US Open, beating Caroline Wozniacki in the final, in her Grand Slam comeback.

Clijsters only reached the third round here last year and was thrashed by Russian Nadia Petrova, 6-0, 6-1.

Zvonareva, 26, got off to a perfect start when she broke Clijsters in the opening game, but from there on the Belgian dominated.

The 27-year-old barely made a mistake and there was no sign of the erratic form that has plagued her career.

The Russian struggled on her first serve early in the match and a wild smash in the ninth game helped Clijsters close out the set.

The second set was a much closer affair, as Zvonareva dug deep to try to stay in the match.

She upped the power on her groundstrokes, but a sloppy backhand in the third game gave Clijsters the precious break.

Zvonareva had two break points in the eighth game to level the set, but pushed two shots just wide to enable Clijsters to scramble out of trouble.

Her spirit was broken and the Belgian needed just one match point in the Russian's next service game to seal the win.



Topics : Tennis
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