Kim Clijsters Cruises Past Vera Zvonareva, to Play Li Na in Final
The second-seeded Zvonareva put forth a respectable effort with no mental breakdowns, but Clijsters' serve and groundstrokes were too powerful for the 26-year-old Russian. The 27-year-old Clijsters won 77 percent of her first-serve points and was broken only once in the match. Zvonareva, on the other hand, was broken four times and never gained any momentum in the semifinal match.
The win by Clijsters sets up an intriguing final between the streaking No. 9 seed Li Na of China, who defeated No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki Thursday in the day's first semifinal match. Na, who defeated Clijsters 7-6 (3), 6-3 in Sydney to open the year, has won 11 straight matches in 2011. The match features the year's two best players on tour. Clijsters holds a 4-2 head-to-head record against the 28-year-old.
Clijsters, the 2010 WTA player of the year, last played in the Australian Open final in 2004 when she lost to Belgian compatriot Justine Henin. Clijsters, who retired from the sport in May 2007 before returning in the summer of 2009, has won the last two U.S. Open titles since her comeback -- adding to her first from 2005. On a day when the three-time major champion advanced to another Grand Slam final, Henin – a seven-time Grand Slam champion – retired from tennis for the second time due to a lingering elbow injury, which she suffered against Clijsters during last year's fourth-round match at Wimbledon.
Saturday's final between Clijsters and Li will be the third time the two have played in a Grand Slam match. Clijsters beat Li both times in quarterfinal matches, once in 2006 at Wimbledon and the other at the 2009 U.S. Open.