Azarenka beats Clijsters to reach Australian Open final | sports | Hindustan Times
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Azarenka beats Clijsters to reach Australian Open final

sports Updated: Jan 26, 2012 11:46 IST
Victoria Azarenka

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Belarus's Victoria Azarenka upset defending champion Kim Clijsters in three tense sets to reach her first grand slam final at the Australian Open on Thrsday.

Third-seeded Azarenka, 22, saw off a powerful second-set fight-back by the Belgian mother-of-one to win 6-4 1-6 6-3. In Saturday's final, she will play either Maria Sharapova or Petra Kvitova, who are in action later.

"I felt like my hand is about 200 kilograms and my body is about 1,000 kilograms," Azarenka said, wiping away tears.

"Everything is shaking but that feeling when you finally win is such a relief. I can't believe it's over -- I just want to cry."

Azarenka has now gone one step better than her previous grand slam best of reaching the semi-finals at last year's Wimbledon, and is one win away from becoming her country's first ever major-winner.

She has often faltered on the big stage, most noticeably at the 2010 Australian Open when she led eventual champion Serena Williams in the quarter-finals by a set and 4-0 before imploding.

But she stood firm today to hold off Clijsters' revival and record the biggest win of her career.

"Before, I think you all thought I was a mental case but I was just young and emotional," she said. "But I'm really glad the way I fought. That's the thing I'm most proud of, I fought for every ball."

Azarenka came out with an obvious game plan to attack Clijsters' second serve and it paid dividends as early as the third game, when she broke with a clean forehand winner wide to the Belgian's backhand.

She kept on attacking Clijsters throughout the first set and was able to dictate the pace with her aggressive shot-making.