Update 11:25 pm. Fifth seed Kim Clijsters has been forced to retire from her Brisbane International semifinal clash against Daniela Hantuchova due to a hip injury.
After claiming the first set in a tiebreak 7-6(4), Clijsters left the court for a medical time-out early in the second with Hantuchova leading 2-1 and up a break.
She returned to the court and played only one more game before abruptly calling an end to the match with Hantuchova ahead 3-1.
The Belgian said she entered the match feeling “a little stiff” before the problem got progressively worse as the match transpired.
“I just felt my left hip getting tighter and tighter to the point where I felt like I couldn’t go forward with my upper body or put any pressure on when I was landing on my serve,” she said.
“So it was the smartest choice to try and not let it get any worse, to be ready for Melbourne in a couple of weeks.”
“When you feel it getting worse and worse, you almost don’t have a choice.”
However, a hopeful Clijsters said that she had “an OK feeling” ahead of tests on Saturday, which will determine the full extent of the injury.
In hindsight, perhaps a sluggish start from the 2010 Brisbane International champion was an indication that not all was well.
Clijsters struggled to find her range early and conceded an early break to trail 0-3 against a fresh Hantuchova, who was gunning for her first win over Clijsters in 10 meetings.
However, the Belgian did warm to the contest, forcing the set into a tiebreak – she then turned up the heat on the Hantuchova serve to skip to a 4-1 lead before eventually taking it 7-4.
An early break in the second saw Hantuchova go ahead 3-1, before the Clijsters injury took centre stage.
The Slovakian No.2 and world No.24 said she was so focused on her own game that she didn’t even notice anything amiss with Clijsters throughout the contest.
“Kim is the kind of player who wouldn’t ask for that [medical attention] if there isn’t a reason to. I just hope she’s going to be fine and ready for Melbourne.”
Clijsters’s retirement gives Hantuchova a peculiar passage to the final – she advanced to the semifinals after Serena Williams gifted her a walkover in the match prior.
Heading into a showdown with unseeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi, Hantuchova said that she was confident in her own level of fitness following a rigorous pre-season spent right here in Queensland on the beaches of Noosa.
“It’s really one of my most favourite parts of the world. I think I’ve seen pretty much everything and, yeah, I’ve kind of fallen in love with that place,” she said.
She will be hoping the love-affair with the state continues in her maiden Brisbane International final on Saturday night.
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