Sharapova, Clijsters to meet in Aussie Open semifinals

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Kim Clijsters had another
quarterfinal win over Martina Hingis despite a rash of unforced
errors, and moved into the Australian Open semifinals against
top-seeded Maria Sharapova.

Fourth-seeded Clijsters won 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 Wednesday, breaking
Hingis' serve in the last game and ending the match with a forehand
passing shot.

"I wasn't really seeing the ball, the only thing you can do is
to work for every point to try to turn things around," said
Clijsters, who made 62 unforced errors and dropped serve five
times. "I knew it was going to be a tough one. It could have been
my last match here, so I'm glad to have one more."

Clijsters, who plans to retire at the end of the season, said
she would have to be sharp from the start against Sharapova.

"She fights a lot, she's an incredible athlete," said
Clijsters. "Hopefully I'll hit a lot less than 62 unforced

Sixth-seeded Hingis is a three-time former champion here and
reached the finals three other times. The fans virtually adopted
Clijsters while she was dating Australian player Lleyton Hewitt.

Clijsters had trouble with just about everything at first
against Hingis and double-faulted on set point. Hingis contributed
to the malaise with a mix-it-up strategy that included drawing the
Belgian to the net, then sending lobs over her head.

"She's a player who really feels it," Clijsters said of
Hingis. "She knows when the opponent's not playing well. She plays
on your weaknesses."

Clijsters finally started finding the range, breaking Hingis
twice in the second set. Hingis staved off four break points while
serving at 3-3 in the deciding set before Clijsters converted the

Frustrated, Hingis angrily spiked her racket in the next game,
then twice kicked balls in the ninth as she fell behind 15-40 while
serving at 3-5. A forehand winner down the line ended the match.

"It was definitely the most disappointing loss against her I've
had," said Hingis, 0-4 against Clijsters since her comeback and
4-5 overall. "Some players wouldn't have come back, but she did.
She's a great fighter."

"I always tried to give her a different look at a ball, that's
why she made so many unforced errors," Hingis said. "That's my
game. It worked for a set and a half, but you have to keep it

Clijsters ended Hingis' remarkable comeback run here in the
quarterfinals last year, when the Swiss star was ranked No. 349 and
returning from three years off the circuit because of injuries. She
also beat Hingis in the quarterfinals at the French Open.

"It's great playing her and everything, but I don't want to see
her in the quarterfinals ever again," Hingis said, laughing.
"It's like every time I get to the quarters I have to face Kim."

Clijsters has made the semifinals here on every trip since 2002
-- missing the 2005 tournament because of injuries -- but has never
won the title.

Sharapova advanced to the Australian Open semifinals for the
third straight year with a 7-6 (5), 7-5 win over Anna Chakvetadze,
another 19-year-old Russian.

The top-seeded Sharapova, assured of gaining the No. 1 ranking
next month, had trouble on her serve, double-faulting on break
point three times.

But she had the only point on serve in the tiebreaker, where the
last eight points finished on unforced errors.

The U.S. Open champion was broken when serving for the match at
5-3 and wasted a match point with a backhand error in the next

Sharapova got two more match points in the 12th game and
finished it off in 2 hours, 14 minutes when Chakvetadze netted a

"It was very difficult, I didn't feel like we had a lot of easy
rallies," Sharapova said. "I felt I had to work on every point."

Sharapova was very inconsistent, smacking clean winners to take
one game, then committing glaring mistakes to lose the next. She
finished with 32 winners but six double faults and 41 unforced
errors and won only three more points than her opponent.

Sharapova, who looks toward her father, Yuri, sitting in the
stands after almost every point, got a warning for getting coaching
from him as she served at 0-30 with the score tied at 2-2 in the
second set. She then ran off four straight points to take the game.

"I was a little up and down, a bit scratchy," Sharapova said.
"I am glad I got through, but next time will even be tougher."

Sharapova is into the semifinals at Melbourne Park for the third
straight year and is among the last four at a major for the eighth
time. She is the defending U.S. Open champion and also won
Wimbledon in 2004.

Chakvetadze, who had won 20 of her previous 21 matches, had
never been beyond the fourth round of a major.

The other women's semifinal will pit Serena Williams against Nicole Vaidisova.