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Eight straight for Clijsters

5 January 2012, by Brisbane International Tennis

Former champion Kim Clijsters is yet to lose a match on a Brisbane court, cruising through her quarterfinal match against troublesome Czech lefty Iveta Benesova tonight to mark her eighth straight win at the Brisbane International.

Despite Benesova showing flashes of the form that saw her dismantle top seed Sam Stosur on Wednesday, Clijsters proved the authority from the baseline, holding 14 break-point opportunities and running away with a 6-3 6-2 win.

Booking a spot in the semifinal, Clijsters—who is playing in Brisbane for the first time since winning the 2010 title—felt confident about her form, saying this quarterfinal was a step up from the 6-1 1-6 6-3 second-round epic against Serbian Ana Ivanovic on Tuesday.

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“I’m starting to feel more confident. The little bit of the up and down maybe I had in my previous matches, especially in the one against Ana, that wasn’t there, which was good,” Clijsters said.

“I felt like I was looking for the lines a little bit better and from the beginning of the rally I felt that I was, with the return, going for the lines and trying to be in charge of the rally from as soon as I could be.”

“She’s so sharp that she can just hit it in the corner and it’s very tough to get out of that. So I knew that it was up to me to be the first one to do that whenever you get the chance, without rushing it.”

Showing typical athleticism with depth and power from the baseline, fan favourite Clijsters took 24 minutes to gain a 5-0 upper-hand in the opening set, as it looked to be another early night for the fifth seed.

But taking advantage of the Clijsters second serve, Benesova managed to get on top of the rallies, breaking the Belgian and holding comfortably to narrow the deficit to 5-3.

With another break-point opportunity for Benesova as she attacked the Clijsters second serve, first serves seemed crucial for the Belgian. But, Clijsters served well when it counted, stringing together solid first strikes to save break points and close out the set 6-3 after 44 minutes.

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It was the Czech with the first opportunity in the second as Clijsters nailed her fifth double fault for the match at 1-0 down. But, tightening her game Clijsters impressed from the back of the court, breaking Benesova to love with a return winner for a 2-1 lead.

Showing stunning ball-striking and movement, Clijsters applied the pressure to the Czech’s serve and raced to a tidy 6-2 win.

Clijsters said it was the match against Ivanovic that helped her keep her focus today, which holds her in good stead as she moves into the final four of the tournament.

“I think the match against Ana was good for me, where I was able to feel what it’s like to kind of lose that focus and let my opponent be dominant and just let it happen,” she said.

“So I knew when I stepped out today in that second set ‘OK just try to stay dominant, stay in charge and try to be aggressive’, so I guess it in a way helped a little.”

For Clijsters, the constant support of a family-friendly lifestyle is the key to her success here, and with the loss of top threats Sam Stosur, Serena Williams, and second seed Andrea Petkovic, she’s looking the hot favourite to make it two from two in Brisbane.

“There’s a lot of things that make you win tournaments and do well at a place and there’s a feeling,” she said.

“For me I’m a person, I like to feel and Brisbane is a place that I definitely enjoy coming to and I feel that I can have a good combination of the family lifestyle with working hard … It makes it just easier for me and I guess that’s when I can focus on tennis the best,” she said.

Clijsters will now meet Slovakian world No.24 Daniela Hantuchova in the semifinals. Hantuchova has never gotten the better of Clijsters in the nine matches they’ve played, but Clijsters expects another tough match against a similar style of opponent.

“She’s a very good ball-striker, she can hit a target really well and so again it’s going to be very important to look for those lines and try not to go three, four times into the same corner of the court,” she said.

“Just try to mix it up, believe in my strengths and be dominant like I did today and we’ll see what happens.”

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