Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Clijsters overcomes sore ankle, Myskina

Australian Open: Agassi advances as lone American in singles semis

By John Pye
The Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia - Kim Clijsters aggravated an ankle injury in her Australian Open quarterfinal victory over Anastasia Myskina on Wednesday, leaving the second-seeded Belgian star questionable for the semifinals.

Belgium's Kim Clijsters has her ankle wrapped during her quarterfinal match against Russia's Anastasia Myskina.
(AP photo)
Clijsters, a semifinalist in all four majors last season but still without a Grand Slam title, beat Myskina 6-2, 7-6 (9) to set up a semifinal match against Patty Schnyder of Switzerland.

Schnyder, seeded 22nd, advanced to her first Grand Slam semifinal with a 7-5 (2), 6-3 victory over Lisa Raymond.

In the men's quarterfinals, French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero beat Morocco's Hicham Arazi 6-1, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5).

Ferrero, seeded third, will play the winner of a late match between Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, seeded second, and Argentina's David Nalbandian.

In the first men's semifinal, defending champion Andre Agassi was set to play Marat Safin on Thursday.

Clijsters lost the first four games of the second set against Myskina and needed a medical timeout for her left ankle after holding in the fifth.

"I'll have to see how it reacts," Clijsters said. "I'm going to have a week off after this anyway, so I might as well go for it and give myself a shot. But, on the other hand, if I can't walk tomorrow, it's stupid to go out there."

Clijsters won five of the next six games after getting courtside treatment in the second set and had two match points on the sixth-seeded Myskina's serve in the 12th before the Russian held to force a tiebreaker.

Clijsters had three more match points in the tiebreaker and saved two set points before the match in 90 minutes when Myskina's backhand shot drifted wide.

Clijsters, who injured her left ankle at the Hopman Cup and was sidelined for two weeks leading into the tournament, said she'd ice her ankle, take painkillers and get the area taped before deciding in the morning if she can play in the semifinal Thursday.

In the other semifinal, top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne will face Colombia's Fabiola Zuluaga, seeded 32nd.

Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters met in two all-Belgian Grand Slam finals last season, with Henin-Hardenne winning in the French and U.S. Opens.

With No. 3 Venus Williams out in the third round, Serena Williams not defending the title and No. 4 Amelie Mauresmo forced to default her quarterfinal because of a back problem, Clijsters and Henin-Hardenne were strong favorites for the title.

Clijsters said her ankle wasn't as painful as it was when she withdrew from a warmup tournament in Sydney. She said she "just sort of jammed it again."

She started with only three unforced errors as she raced for a 5-0 lead in the first set, but ended with 47 unforced errors to Myskina's 45.

"I started off really well, was feeling good ... I wish I ended like that," Clijsters said. "I had a little stumble in the second, then I got taped very tight, which kept me from making it any worse. That's maybe why I was rushing it a bit.

"I was very happy I could pull it off in two sets, otherwise it would have been hard."

With top-seeded Andy Roddick out of the tournament in a quarterfinal upset to unseeded Safin, former No. 1 Ferrero and Federer are vying for the No. 1 spot in men's tennis.

Ferrero, who lost the U.S. Open final to Roddick, won seven consecutive games and gave up only nine points to lead 1-0 in the second set before the left-handed Arazi recovered and started pounding forehand winners.

Ferrero saved three set points in the second set and two in the third before forcing tiebreakers in each. He advanced when Arazi dumped a backhand return into the net facing his first match point.

"I played really good when I started the match, but I knew Arazi always played good rallies and would come back," Ferrero said. "I'm happy to beat him. It was a real tough match."

Schnyder described her run to the semifinals as "enormous."

"I mean, I'm so happy to be here and to play semis ... it's hard to describe," said Schnyder, who beat 12th-seeded Paulo Suarez in the third round and Nathalie Dechy in the fourth.

Raymond, a third-round winner over Venus Williams, is 0-5 in her career against Schnyder. The 30-year-old American had 44 unforced errors and only 24 winners.

"I don't think that I've been this disappointed losing a match," Raymond said. "I really, really thought that I had a good shot of really having a breakthrough here.

Raymond's loss leaves Agassi as the only American still in contention at Melbourne Park.

Who's No. 1?

With top-ranked Andy Roddick losing in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open Tuesday, there will be a change at No. 1 in next week's ATP Entry Rankings.

Current No. 2 Roger Federer or No. 3 Juan Carlos Ferrero will replace Roddick, who has been ranked No. 1 since Nov. 3.

Federer becomes No. 1 if:

• Ferrero loses in the quarterfinals;

• Federer loses in the quarterfinals AND Ferrero doesn't reach the final.

Ferrero becomes No. 1 if:

• Federer loses in the quarterfinals AND Ferrero reaches the final;

• Federer loses in the semifinals AND Ferrero wins the title.

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