Clijsters too strong for Azarenka

SYDNEY: Kim Clijsters stormed into the semi-finals of the Sydney International with a straight sets demolition of Victoria Azarenka on Wednesday.
The Belgian world number three reaffirmed her status as favourite for next week's Australian Open with five service breaks on the way to a 6-3, 6-2 win over the seventh-seed from Belarus in 85 minutes.
Clijsters will face Alisa Kleybanova on Thursday after the unseeded Russian overcame Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 in the night's final match.

China's Li Na will take on Serbian qualifier Bojana Jovanovski in the other semi, after Jovanovski beat Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-1 in their quarter-final.

With no Serena Williams in Melbourne and the patchy early season form of the two top-ranked women, Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva, Clijsters was in devastating form.

The Belgian mother controlled the match from the baseline in swirling winds with her deep groundstrokes putting Azarenka on the defensive.

Clijsters raced to a 5-1 lead before briefly allowing Azarenka back into the set, then closed out the second set with two breaks.

Li was the first player into the semi-finals after a gruelling dogfight with Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The 11th-ranked Li wore down the two-time Grand Slam champion, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 in almost two and a half hours on a warm day to book her spot in the last four of the tournament.

Li will be bidding to go one better in Sydney than her losing semi-final appearance to Clijsters in the 2007 tournament.

Li, who became the first Chinese player to break into the world top 10 rankings after reaching the semi-finals of last year's Australian Open, was pleased to have got past Kuznetsova.

It was Li's fourth win against the former French and US Open champion in their 11 meetings.


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