Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Kim's Feeling Grand; No4 Seed Sends Venus Williams Crashing out of US Open to Move Closer to Her First Grand Slam Title, Reports Wayne Veysey

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Kim's Feeling Grand; No4 Seed Sends Venus Williams Crashing out of US Open to Move Closer to Her First Grand Slam Title, Reports Wayne Veysey

Article excerpt

Byline: WAYNE VEYSEY

SHE is the hottest player on the women's tour this year with six titles. Kim Clijsters is still chasing that elusive first Grand Slam title but remained on course for a major triumph last night after defeating Venus Williams to reach the US Open semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.

Clijsters, who doctors once doubted she would ever play tennis again, hailed the victory over the Wimbledon champion as one of the biggest in her career.

She missed last year's US Open and most of the 2004 season while recovering from wrist surgery and then was out for a month with a damaged knee, prompting experts to question whether she would ever play at the same level again.

Clijsters overcame the doubters and is now determined to shed her label as the best player on the women's tour never to have won a Grand Slam title.

The Belgian fourth seed, who came to Flushing Meadows as the inform hardcourt player, was two games away from losing in straight sets against Williams but scrambled back to win the quarterfinal 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

"After my surgery I enjoy every win much more," Clijsters said. "This definitely means a lot more than any win before my surgery."

Clijsters, who appeared down and out at one stage, added: "I wasn't really thinking about the score. I just tried to keep fighting and just kept running for each ball."

In a drama-filled match that finished well after midnight and contained 13 service breaks, the Belgian recovered from 4-2 down in the second set to advance to a semi-final against defending champion Maria Sharapova.

Williams, who beat her sister Serena in the previous round, broke the fourth seed's serve to win the first set and looked in total command when she broke to lead 4-2.

But Clijsters suddenly found her form. Showing some outstanding agility, including doing the splits at one stage, Clijsters roared back to level the match and force a third set.

Williams began to look a little jaded and her opponent took full advantage, breaking three times to clinch her place in the last four.

Standing between Clijsters and a place in the semi-finals on Friday will be top-seeded Sharapova, who yielded a set for the first time in the tournament before beating fellow Russian Nadia Petrova, the ninth seed, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. …

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