Wozniacki, Clijsters, Li cruise

Kim Clijsters hits a return to Daniela Hantuchova during their women's singles match at the...

Kim Clijsters hits a return to Daniela Hantuchova during their women's singles match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Friday, Jan. 20, 2012. (REUTERS/Daniel Munoz)

SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

MELBOURNE - Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, defending champ Kim Clijsters and French Open winner Li Na were among the third-round winners Friday at the Australian Open.

Wozniacki, still trying for that elusive first Grand Slam title, has yet to drop a set in her first three matches and on Friday thumped Romania's Monica Niculescu, 6-2, 6-2.

Clijsters, seeded 11th this year, also had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-2 rout of Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova. The two had met two weeks ago at the tuneup in Brisbane and Clijsters was forced to retire from their semifinal match because of a hip injury to give Hantuchova her first-ever win against the Belgian star.

There would be no gifts this time.

Hantuchova, who reached the semifinals in Melbourne in 2008, mustered only 12 winners and committed 23 unforced errors on Friday. Clijsters ripped 27 winners.

"I was able to, at the important points, win those points and make the right decisions," said Clijsters. "When you're not playing your best, that's what it comes down to -- just trying to play the important points as well as possible. I was able to do that today."

Next up for the four-time Grand Slam champ will be a rematch of last year's Australian Open finale against Li. The fifth seed from China was ahead 3-0 and had won the first two points of the fourth game against Anabel Medina Garrigues, when the Spaniard called it quits. She had suffered an ankle injury in the third game.

"It was really tough, because after she [had her ankle taped] and then she tried to continue [to] play," Li said, "I saw she couldn't run and she started to cry. I have to say so sorry for her, because I know the injury for a tennis athlete is bad thing."

Li, who has had her share of knee and back issues over the past few years, finally broke through last year with her runner-up performance in Melbourne and follow-up title at Roland Garros -- the first Grand Slam championship for an Asian player.

She'll try to avenge last year's loss to Clijsters on Sunday.

"After that match I was feeling I really can win a Grand Slam," Li said Friday. "Of course it was a tough match, so [Sunday] will be just another challenge for myself."

Wozniacki will meet Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round. The 13th-seeded Serb advanced Friday with a 6-2, 6-0 domination of American Christina McHale.

"She's a very solid player," Jankovic said of Wozniacki. "She doesn't really give you anything. I just have to be strong out there, you know, mentally and physically, play my tennis, believe in my abilities and go for it."

Third-seeded Victoria Azarenka also breezed through with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Germany's Mona Barthel and will next meet the Czech Republic's Iveta Benesova, a 6-1, 6-3 winner over Russian Nina Bratchikova.

Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska also cruised into the fourth round with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva. Germany's Julia Goerges awaits the eighth-seeded Radwanska after rallying for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over Italy's Romina Oprandi.

The third round will conclude Saturday with matches for Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic -- all former Grand Slam champions.

Williams, who won five of her 13 Grand Slam titles in Melbourne, will meet Hungary's Greta Arn. Kvitova, the second seed and reigning Wimbledon champ, will have a tough match against Russian Maria Kirilenko.

Sharapova, who won the second of her three major titles at the 2008 Australian Open, will face Germany's Angelique Kerber. The Russian star has dropped just two games over her first two matches. Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam winner, could be Sharapova's fourth-round opponent, but will first take on Germany's Sabine Lisicki, a semifinalist last year at Wimbledon.

Ivanovic, the former world No. 1 and 2008 French Open champ, will play American Vania King.


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