|Vera Zvonareva celebrates during her quarterfinal match against Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic)
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Second-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva and No. 3 seed Kim Clijsters both won their respective quarterfinal matches Wednesday at the 2011 Australian Open.
Zvonareva, who also advanced to the semis here in 2009, took out 25th-seeded Czech lefthander Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-4 in 75 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.
The 26-year-old Zvonareva, who is trying to reach a third straight major final, needed just 29 minutes to win the first set.
It seemed as if the Russian was going to cruise to victory in the second set. But Kvitova, facing a 0-3 deficit, won four straight games to take a 4-3 lead. Zvonareva, however, broke the Czech's serve and claimed the following two games to win the match.
A total of 28 unforced errors haunted Kvitova, who titled in Brisbane to open her 2011 season and was a surprise semifinalist at Wimbledon last summer. Zvonareva had 12 unforced errors by comparison.
Zvonareva now leads the all-time series with Kvitova, 2-1.
"I think it's experience. You know, I know that every single match is very difficult, and I knew that she's very tough opponent. So I was trying to keep to stick to my game plan and what I had to do today," Zvonareva said.
"I was trying to concentrate on myself, not pay attention to what was going on the other side. I was trying to stay aggressive, and, yeah, just keep fighting."
The Russian will next do battle with the popular Belgian star Clijsters. The three-time U.S. Open champion Clijsters defeated 12th-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in 94 minutes on Australia Day.
The Belgian star took the first set in just 29 minutes, but the second set was much tougher.
Clijsters broke Radwanska's serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. But the Pole won the next three games to assume a 5-4 edge. Clijsters won two of the next three games to send the set into a tiebreak.
Radwanska was up 4-3 in the tiebreak before the sturdy Belgian ripped off four consecutive points to win the match. Holding a 6-4 advantage, Clijsters fired a quality backhand down the line. Radwanska's run came to an end as her return sailed wide.
The 2004 Aussie Open runner-up Clijsters said she felt tired and sluggish during the match and will have to be fresher against Zvonareva, who she beat in last year's U.S. Open title match.
"I fought well and stayed really focused, tried not to lose too much energy on getting frustrated and things like that," Clijsters said. "I felt that there were a few things I did really well, but there were also a few things that I just didn't feel quite right every time out there."
This was Radwanska's fourth time playing in the quarterfinals of a major. She also made it to the Aussie quarters in 2008.
Zvonareva and the 27-year-old former world No. 1 Clijsters will meet for a 10th time, with the Belgian leading their lifetime series 6-3. Clijsters is 3-1 in their previous Grand Slam meetings, including the victory in last year's U.S. Open title tilt.
In the other semifinal match, current world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark will meet ninth-seeded Chinese Li Na, who stunned Clijsters in a finale in Sydney two weeks ago.
Wozniacki has lost two of her three meetings with Li, including a fourth-round setback here in Melbourne last year. Both of Li's wins came here in Australia last year, with the other occurring at the Aussie Open tune-up in Sydney.