Former world number one Kim Clijsters produced a masterful display to reach the semifinals of the French Open at the expense of Martina Hingis on Tuesday.
Clijsters, who won 7-6 (7/5), 6-1, will face either fellow Belgian and defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne or Germany’s Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the last four.
Spurred on by a French crowd that seemed mostly behind her, Clijsters raced into a 5-2 first set lead after breaking two of Hingis’s first three service games.
But the Swiss Miss, bidding to claim the only Grand Slam title missing from her collection, hit back in fine style to force the tie-break.
Hingis, the 12th seed, struggled to match Clijsters’s power from the back court and was often pushed too deep behind the baseline to use the delicate touches that were her hallmark before she retired sensationally at just 21 years of age.
But having dragged herself back into contention, Hingis suffered a shattering blow in the tie-break, losing 7/5 and from there the wind seemed to be blown out of her sails.
Clijsters, the second seed, broke early in the second set and then dominated with powerful groundstrokes and her remarkable athleticism that allowed her to reach many balls that seemed destined to be winners.
It was a repeat of the pair’s quarterfinal meeting at the Australian Open earlier this year which US Open champion Clijsters also won as Hingis made her return following a three-year break after injury.
The Belgian is now one step away from reaching her third Paris final.
Three years ago she reached the final, only to be beaten by Henin-Hardenne, and in 2001 she finished runner-up to American Jennifer Capriati.
She will also be spurred on by the added motivation that she can regain the world number one spot from France’s Amelie Mauresmo if she does reach the final here.
For Hingis, it was a disappointing performance after her victory in Rome last month where she seemed to have finally come to terms with the dirt surface.
Now, though, she will have to wait another year at least before she can complete her own personal Grand Slam and claim the one Major that continues to elude her. — AFP