by Helen Earnshaw |
Kim Clijsters saved four match points and overcame an ankle injury as she beat Li Na and booked her place in the quarter finals of the Australian Open.
It was a repeat of the final from twelve months ago, a match which with Clijsters won to take the title, but the Belgian looked in trouble in the first set.
In game six of the opening set the defending champion fell awkwardly and rolled her ankle. And while she continued to play her movement was hampered and Li took full advantage as she took the opening set 4-6.
Into the second and Li got an early break to lead 3-1 and it looked like this match was quickly disappearing for Clijsters.
Clijsters managed to get the set back on level terms and a tie break was on the cards. In the breaker it was Li who pulled ahead and she had four match point chances at 6-2.
But she was unable to convert on a single on of them as Clijsters showed her fighting spirit as well as some great shot choices and she took it 8-6.
Into the third and the momentum was well and truly with Clijsters as Li’s form dipped and the Belgian opened up a 5-1.
But Li recovered to pull the set back to 5-4 and while she fought off one match point it wasn’t to be as Clijsters sealed a great 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4.
Speaking to the WTA after the match Clijsters said: "It crossed my mind a couple of times to stop because of the ankle, but it's my last time at the Australian Open and I didn't want to quit in my last match.
“My box and the crowd were cheering me on as well and I just tried to keep fighting and get back into it.”
Clijsters will now face top seed Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the semi final as the Dane came through a scrappy match with Jelena Jankovic.
Jankovic had been in good form in the past week and it looked she should could possibly give the Dane a run for her money.
But it was not to be in the opening set as Jankovic struggled with her serve as well as range on her shots - her game was littered with errors.
Wozniacki had to do little to take the opening set 6-0 as Jankovic all but handed her the advantage.
There was more of the same in the second set as Wozniacki opened up a 4-1 lead, sadly it was far from vintage tennis, but Jankovic did stage a mini fight-back.
She levelled the set at 5-5 but Wozniacki broke back immediately before serving out the match to win 6-0 7-5.
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw