Clijsters to play Li in Sydney final

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ON COURSE: Gilles Simon of France prepares to serve to Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarterfinals of the Sydney International on Thursday. — PHOTO: AFP
ON COURSE: Gilles Simon of France prepares to serve to Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarterfinals of the Sydney International on Thursday. — PHOTO: AFP

U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters came from a break down in the deciding set to beat Alisa Kleybanova of Russia 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(1) on Thursday and advance to the Sydney International final. Clijsters will play Li Na of China, who beat Bojana Jovanovski 7-6(5), 6-3.

“If she plays like that, I think she's definitely a contender to beat a lot of top players,” Clijsters said of Kleybanova's chances at the Australian Open.

Simon in semifinals

In the men's tournament, Gilles Simon advanced to the semifinals by beating Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 6-4, 6-3. Simon's victory set up a meeting with third-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, who beat Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4.

Simon and Dolgopolov both earned their places in the quarterfinals after completing rain-delayed first round matches on Wednesday morning, then returning to the court for second round matches in the afternoon. The tough schedule fully tested Simon's gradual recovery from injuries that blighted his 2010.

Bartoli bounced out

At the Hobart International, French top seed Marion Bartoli was upset by Czech starlet Klara Zakopalova in the quarterfinals of the Hobart International on Thursday.

The Czech fifth seed followed on from winning her second round match earlier in the day in the rain-hit tournament to bounce out the world number 17, 6-4, 6-2 in 1hr 18min.

Zakopalova will play Australian sixth seed Jarmila Groth in Friday's semifinals.

In the other quarterfinals, China's unseeded Peng Shuai defeated Italian seventh seed Sara Errani, 6-1, 6-3, and American Bethanie Mattek-Sands ousted German eighth seed Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-4.

Isner upset

At the Heinekan Open in Auckland, former world No. 3 David Nalbandian beat ailing defending champion John Isner 6-4, 7-6(3) on Thursday to reach the semifinals.

Nalbandian, the No. 6 seed in Auckland and the 27th-seed for next week's Australian Open, beat the third-seeded American who appeared to be troubled by an arm injury.

Isner needed medical treatment to an injury to his upper arm or shoulder but still delivered eight aces and put 78 percent of first serves in play before the steadier Nalbandian ended his title defense.

The results:

At Sydney (Sydney International): Women: Semifinals: Li Na bt Bojana Jovanovski 7-6(5), 6-3; Kim Clijsters bt Alisa Kleybanova 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(1).

Men: Quarterfinals: Gilles Simon bt Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-3; Ernests Gulbis bt Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 6-4; Viktor Troicki bt Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4; Florian Mayer bt Potito Starace 6-4, 6-1.

At Hobart (Hobart International): Quarterfinals: Klara Zakopalova bt Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-2; Bethanie Mattek-Sands bt Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-4; Peng Shuai bt Sara Errani 6-1, 6-3; Jarmila Groth bt Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-2.

At Auckland (Heineken Open): Quarterfinals: David Ferrer bt Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3; Nicolas Almagro bt Adrian Mannarino 7-6(3), 6-7(1), 6-2; David Nalbandian bt John Isner 6-4, 7-6(3); Santiago Giraldo bt Thomaz Bellucci 6-2, 6-4 . — Agencies

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