No. 2 seed questionable for semifinals

Updated: January 28, 2004, 10:10 AM ET
Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Kim Clijsters aggravated an ankle injury in her Australian Open quarterfinal victory over Anastasia Myskina on Wednesday, leaving the second-seeded Belgian star questionable for the semifinals.

Clijsters, a semifinalist in all four majors last season but still without a Grand Slam title, beat Myskina 6-2, 7-6 (9) to set up a semifinal match against Patty Schnyder of Switzerland.

Kim Clijsters
AP PhotoClijsters hopes a bum ankle doesn't knock her out of the semis.
Schnyder, seeded 22nd, advanced to her first Grand Slam semifinal with a 7-5 (2), 6-3 victory over Lisa Raymond.

Clijsters lost the first four games of the second set against Myskina and needed a medical timeout for her left ankle after holding in the fifth.

"I'll have to see how it reacts," Clijsters said. "I'm going to have a week off after this anyway, so I might as well go for it and give myself a shot. But, on the other hand, if I can't walk tomorrow, it's stupid to go out there."

Clijsters won five of the next six games after getting courtside treatment in the second set and had two match points on the sixth-seeded Myskina's serve in the 12th before the Russian held to force a tiebreaker.

Clijsters had three more match points in the tiebreaker and saved two set points before the match in 90 minutes when Myskina's backhand shot drifted wide.

Clijsters, who injured her left ankle at the Hopman Cup and was sidelined for two weeks leading into the tournament, said she'd ice her ankle, take painkillers and get the area taped before deciding in the morning if she can play in the semifinal Thursday.

In the other semifinal, top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne will face Colombia's Fabiola Zuluaga, seeded 32nd.

Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters met in two all-Belgian Grand Slam finals last season, with Henin-Hardenne winning in the French and U.S. Opens.

With No. 3 Venus Williams out in the third round, Serena Williams not defending the title and No. 4 Amelie Mauresmo forced to default her quarterfinal because of a back problem, Clijsters and Henin-Hardenne were strong favorites for the title.

Clijsters said her ankle wasn't as painful as it was when she withdrew from a warmup tournament in Sydney. She said she "just sort of jammed it again."

She started with only three unforced errors as she raced for a 5-0 lead in the first set, but ended with 47 unforced errors to Myskina's 45.

"I started off really well, was feeling good ... I wish I ended like that," Clijsters said. "I had a little stumble in the second, then I got taped very tight, which kept me from making it any worse. That's maybe why I was rushing it a bit.

"I was very happy I could pull it off in two sets, otherwise it would have been hard."

Even though Clijsters was injured, Myskina could not capitalize. She knows she missed a chance.

"I think I lost the match -- before the match already," she smiled wistfully soon after trudging off center court.

"I was kind of nervous because I thought I had a good chance to play, I mean, at least to play three sets with Kim, maybe beat her. But that was not my day, for sure."

When Clijsters received treatment while trailing 4-1 in the second set, Myskina was well aware it was a genuine concern -- rather than a tactic -- by Clijsters to buy time to regroup.

"Kim took it just because she was hurt. I think she had the pain, that's why she took it, not just because there was something that she want to change or break my rhythm," Myskina said.

"I lost this match because I did lots of unforced errors. That's why I lost this match, not because of the break."

"I was just thinking to keep the ball, you know, and play rallies. But I wasn't able today to play lot of rallies, you know, and Kim just beat me in these rallies," she said.

Schnyder described her run to the semifinals as "enormous."

"I mean, I'm so happy to be here and to play semis ... it's hard to describe," said Schnyder, who beat 12th-seeded Paulo Suarez in the third round and Nathalie Dechy in the fourth.

Raymond, a third-round winner over Venus Williams, is 0-5 in her career against Schnyder. The 30-year-old American had 44 unforced errors and only 24 winners.

"I don't think that I've been this disappointed losing a match," Raymond said. "I really, really thought that I had a good shot of really having a breakthrough here.

Raymond's loss leaves Agassi as the only American still in contention at Melbourne Park.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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