Clijsters into quarters

2011-01-24 15:44

Melbourne -Third-seeded Belgian Kim Clijsters downed a feisty Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 in a high-quality match, to move into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open here on Monday.

The tournament favourite battled through a tight first set, then raced away with the second to set up a showdown with 12th-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.

Clijsters defended brilliantly throughout the match, her speed across the court and retrieving ability forcing Makarova to try to hit closer and closer to the lines, which in turn led to a high error rate from the Russian.

The left-handed Makarova tried hard throughout, but once she lost the first set Clijsters quickly gained control and there was nothing the Russian could do to make an impression on the world number three.

Clijsters opened the match in a rush, gaining an early break to lead 2-0, but Makarova fought back to get the set back on even terms.

The Belgian was steadier on serve than Makarova, who faced six break points as the set went on but saved them all, including two set points at 5-6 to send the set into a tiebreak.

However, that dominance was reflected in the tiebreak, with Clijsters jumping out to a 5-2 lead and holding on to take the first set in 57 minutes.

Both women had similar serving percentages in the first set, but Clijsters picked hers up in the second set while Makarova went slightly off the boil.

It was enough for Clijsters, who pounced to break Makarova at the start of the set and gain the early advantage. She then broke again to move to 5-2, and showed no nerves as she served out the match to love.

It is the sixth time Clijsters has reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, although she has yet to win it.

She has made the semi-finals four times and got to the final in 2004, losing to fellow countrywoman Justine Henin.

"I started the tournament off well (against Dinara Safina), but from then on it has been tough because I have been playing players I've never played before," she said.

"It was the same tonight. I didn't feel my best out there but I fought back."