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Top seeds meet in semis at Eastbourne

Defending champion Kim Clijsters and third seed Justine Henin-Hardenne will play each other after both won in straight sets.

india Updated: Jun 23, 2006 02:00 IST

Defending champion Kim Clijsters and third-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne will play each other on Friday in the Hastings Direct semifinals after both won in straight sets.

Clijsters needed just 44 minutes to beat sixth-seeded Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 6-1 on Thursday, while Henin-Hardenne overcame Russia's Elena Likhovtseva 6-2, 6-4.

The two Belgians have met 20 times with both winning 10 matches apiece - but Henin-Hardenne has dominated since 2003. She has beaten Clijsters in the last four Grand Slams where they've met, including in the semifinals at last month's French Open.

Schiavone has lost all 11 matches against Clijsters without winning a set.

"She made a lot of mistakes and missed a lot of easy shots because of the wind," Clijsters said. "But the important thing to me is I'm still in the tournament."

Second-seeded Clijsters made few unforced errors, giving up only two points on serve in the first set and winning the opener with an ace. She took a 4-1 lead in the second set and won the match when Schiavone hit a backhand error.

"You try to play as good as you possibly can, but it's not easy out there," said Clijsters. "There's so many returns where you hit the frame because the wind is just changing the ball the whole time."

Henin-Hardenne dominated the opening set against Likhovtseva, but struggled to gain the upper hand in the second after suffering an injury scare.

After breaking to lead 1-0, Henin-Hardenne slid awkwardly in the next game and spent time flexing her right knee before continuing. When play resumed, Likhovtseva broke to level at 1-1 and the Belgian had to fight hard to regain the lead.

Her breakthrough came at 3-3 when Likhovtseva's forehand went awry on breakpoint, and Henin-Hardenne went on to claim victory, serving out the final game to love.

"The knee is fine," Henin-Hardenne said. "I was a little bit scared when that happened - I overstretched. On grass, this kind of thing happens unfortunately and it was really painful for 30 seconds, but it's not really serious.

"I worked a little bit more after the match and couldn't feel anything, so that's really good news."