Clijsters muddles through against Hingis at Acura
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Top-seeded Kim Clijsters defeated Martina Hingis 7-5, 6-2 in a sloppy battle of former No. 1 players to advance to the semifinals of the Acura Classic on Friday night.
Clijsters, ranked second in the world, won a tough first set in which both players made numerous unforced errors. But the Belgian took control in the second set with aggressive play to extend her winning streak to 23 matches in North American summer hardcourt events.
Clijsters' opponent in Saturday night's semifinal will be Czech teenager Nicole Vaidisova, a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 winner over Russia's Anna Chakvetadze.
Second-seeded Maria Sharapova advanced to the other semifinal, routing defending champion Mary Pierce 6-2, 6-3. Sharapova will face fifth-seeded Patty Schnyder, who beat fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva 6-4, 6-3.
Hingis committed 34 unforced errors, while Clijsters had 27. Hingis also hit just 18 winners, compared to 25 for Clijsters.
Clijsters was able to save seven of nine break points she faced. The biggest save came in the sixth game of the first set when Clijsters held a 3-2 lead.
The eight-seeded Hingis was unable to convert on four break points in a game that lasted 15 points before Hingis hit a backhand drop shot wide to put Clijsters ahead 4-2.
Clijsters had the only two service breaks in the second set as she completed her third victory over Hingis this year, including wins in the quarterfinals of the Australian and French opens.
Hingis, who has won five Grand Slam titles, is playing this season for the first time in three seasons after being sidelined with injuries.
Sharapova, ranked No. 4, won her third consecutive straight-set match as she overwhelmed Pierce. The Russian teenager ran off seven straight games to overcome a 2-1 first-set deficit and take a 2-0 lead in the second.
"I thought I played solid," said Sharapova, who reached the semis for the eighth time in nine tournaments this season. "After that first break in the second set, I felt pretty much in control."
Sharapova wasted little time dispatching Pierce, who was playing in her third tournament after missing six months with injuries.
"She's always dangerous just because she has all the experience behind her," said Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champ. "Obviously, she has not played a lot, but you really can't worry about that because she can swing freely and hit some big shots."
Pierce, who did not move well throughout the match, played with her right thigh wrapped, but she called it "preventative."
Schnyder continued her recent hot streak, reaching the semifinals for the third straight week. Schnyder advanced to the semis at Cincinnati, and last week lost to eventual champion Clijsters at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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