January 24, 2012
Clijsters ousts Wozniacki
By SPORTS NETWORK
MELBOURNE - At least Caroline Wozniacki won't have to answer questions about her world No. 1 ranking anymore.
Wozniacki, who has spent 67 of the last 68 weeks atop the world rankings despite never winning a major championship, lost in straight sets to defending Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters in the quarterfinals in Melbourne on Tuesday.
The 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) decision means Clijsters still has a chance to become the eighth women's player to successfully defend the Australian Open title and also ensures a new world No. 1 by week's end.
"I will get it back eventually, so I'm not worried," Wozniacki said. "Critics talk to me like I'm finishing my career and I only have one year left and time is running out. The fact is I still have quite a few good years in front of me."
Wozniacki needed to reach the semifinals here to maintain the No. 1 ranking.
Clijsters, seeded 11th, reached the quarters only after rallying past China's Li Na on Sunday in a rematch of last year's title match in Melbourne. The Belgian suffered an ankle injury in the first set, then saved four match points in the second-set tiebreak before staving off Li in the third.
The four-time Grand Slam champion had decidedly less trouble Tuesday, tallying six breaks of serve against Wozniacki at Rod Laver Arena.
Wozniacki was able to force a tiebreak in the second set, but a cross-court winner gave the former world No. 1 Clijsters match point at 6-4 in the extra session, which the Belgian converted with a winner at the net.
"Yeah, instead of really focusing on the match you're focusing on trying to get the ankle as good as possible," Clijsters said of her preparation. "Laying on the couch, every 20 minutes ice, 20 minutes off, 20 minutes ice, 20 minutes off. Leg elevated. Lymphatic drainage, all that stuff."
The 21-year-old Wozniacki had not dropped a set in her first four matches at the season's first major, but won just 49% of her service points to fall to 0-3 in her career against Clijsters, including a loss in the 2009 U.S. Open finale.
In the semifinals at Melbourne Park, Clijsters will meet third-seeded Belarusian slugger Victoria Azarenka, who overcame a letdown in a first- set tiebreak to dismiss Agnieszka Radwanska 6-7 (0-7), 6-0, 6-2 in their quarterfinal affair on Day 9.
There were eight breaks of serve in the first set alone between Azarenka and the eighth-seeded Radwanska, who won all seven points in a surprisingly quick tiebreak.
Azarenka bounced back from losing her first set of the tournament quite easily, bageling the Pole in a brief 26-minute second set.
The Belarusian star kept the momentum in her favour and controlled the final set to improve to 7-3 lifetime against Radwanska, who has yet to reach a major semifinal. Azarenka reached her second Grand Slam semi, with her first one coming at Wimbledon last summer.
Azarenka was a titlist in Sydney two weeks ago.
The other two quarterfinal matches will be played on Wednesday, with second- seeded Petra Kvitova squaring off against unseeded Italian Sara Errani and Ekaterina Makarova, fresh off her huge upset of Serena Williams, taking on fourth-seeded fellow Russian Maria Sharapova.
The 21-year-old Kvitova has never faced the 24-year-old Errani, who will play in her first-ever major quarterfinal, while the 24-year-old Sharapova is 2-0 lifetime against the 23-year-old Makarova.
"She's a beast. The important thing is not to allow yourself to get eaten, trying to be more aggressive than her," the 48th-ranked Errani said of Kvitova.
Either the reigning Wimbledon and WTA Championships titlist Kvitova, Azarenka or three-time major champion Sharapova will take over the No. 1 ranking on Monday.
The former world No. 1 Sharapova captured her lone Aussie Open title in 2008.