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Easy for Clijsters

August 02, 2003 15:11 IST

Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Lindsay Davenport coasted into the semi-finals of the $1 million Acura Classic on Friday.

Second seed Clijsters brushed aside unseeded American Lisa Raymond 6-2, 6-2, third seed Henin-Hardenne crushed unseeded Russian Nadia Petrova 6-0, 6-2 in only 55 minutes while number four Davenport swept past fellow American Chanda Rubin 6-3, 6-3.

Clijsters now faces Davenport while French Open champion Henin-Hardenne takes on 18-year-old Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, who put out fellow countrywoman Elena Likhovtseva 6-2, 6-3.

After winning the Bank of the West Classic title in nearby Palo Alto last week, Clijsters arrived here with her confidence sky-high and she has dropped only six games in three matches.

"I have played really well," the Belgian told reporters. "The first two matches my opponents weren't at that high of a level but tonight I really felt like I had to raise my level and I did.

"I moved really well and when I had the chance to step in one to two metres inside the baseline, I did."

Clijsters, though, knows she must maintain her best form against Davenport.

"We've had some really great matches," Clijsters said. "She's tall and can really hit the lines with her serves. I need to stay focused and keep fighting until I get my chances."

Henin-Hardenne was pleased with her performance against Petrova. "I played solid and she had problems starting off and that gave me a lot of confidence," said the Belgian.

FEW MISTAKES

"I didn't make many mistakes, I returned well and played good defence. I was so quick and moved really well."

Petrova, who had upset seeds Amanda Coetzer and Daniela Hantuchova en route to the quarter-finals, served poorly, winning only 31 percent of her first-serve points.

"Maybe Nadia had a lot of confidence after her win over Hantuchova and because she gave me a tough match last month," Henin-Hardenne said.

Henin-Hardenne has won four trophies this year but all have come on clay. Of her 10 overall titles, only two have come on outdoor hard courts.

But the Belgian has designs on winning the forthcoming U.S. Open and knows she needs to quickly improve her game on concrete if she is to challenge the elite American players there.

"Mentally, I know I have to work hard and be aggressive on hard courts," the 21-year-old said.

"My serve is a big part of it. When I serve like I did today, it gives me a lot of confidence and easy points."

Davenport, who struggled with a nerve injury in her foot leading up to this week's event, forged ahead after overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the first set.

The 6-foot-3 American served with power and precision and controlled most of the rallies.

"The first few games I was getting killed," said Davenport, who won 83 percent of her first-serve points and cracked 34 winners against sixth seed Rubin's 14. "My balls weren't going anywhere and she was just stepping in and hitting winners.

"Once the sun moved out of the way it was easier to serve and set up points. When my foot is feeling well and I can push off and really use my body, I have a very good serve."

Three times grand slam champion Davenport has only won one title since returning from knee surgery just over a year ago.

Source:
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