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Clijsters in semis at US Open

sports Updated: Sep 09, 2009 13:51 IST
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Wildcard Kim Clijsters of Belgium reached the US Open semi-finals Tuesday by beating China's Li Na 6-2, 6-4 and stands two matches away from becoming just the third mother to win a Grand Slam title.

The 2005 US Open champion, who has returned to action after two years away from the sport, will play either title-holder Serena Williams of the United States or Italy's Flavia Pennetta for a place in the final.

"I'm just glad I got through this," she said.

"I tried to stay focussed on my own game, mix it up and stay aggressive and winning those important points today."

Clijsters won her only Grand Slam title here in 2005 but injury ruled out her defence the following year and in May 2007 she surprisingly walked away from the sport, saying she was tired of the injuries and lifestyle.

During her time off, she married and had a baby daughter, but 18 months after giving birth, she came blistering back to action at the start of August with a view to making her mark again at the US Open.

A big win over Venus Williams in the fourth round at Flushing Meadow assured her of that and she had little difficulty writing another chapter in her comeback saga against Li.

Clijsters chalked up service breaks in the second and fourth games to lead 5-1 and two games later she wrapped up the opener in just 25 minutes when Li hit a backhand service return long.

The 26-year-old Belgian kept up the pressure to break Li's serve again at the start of the second set and had break points for 3-0 before Li started to claw her way back into it.

The Chinese No.1 finally held serve and then ran off three games in a row from 1-3 down, including her first break of the Clijsters's serve, to lead 4-3.

Clijsters levelled at 4-4 and then pounced in the next game to grab a crucial fourth break that allowed her to serve out for a place in the semi-finals and a possible crack at Serena Williams.

"Serena is a great athlete and a great girl and we always have some good laughs in the locker rooms and that's what makes it fun as well," she said of her possible next opponent.

The win and semi-final place meant Clijsters equalled the best recorded run by a wildcard, man or woman, at the US Open, matching Jimmy Connors in 1991.

The defeat was a heavy blow for Li, who was bidding to become just the second Chinese player ever to reach a Grand Slam semi-final, matching Zheng Jie's wildcard run into the Wimbledon last four in 2008.

It was Clijsters who also stopped Li the last time she reached a Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon 2006.

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