Zvonareva powers past Clijsters
Fri, 29 Oct 19:24:00 2010
The Russian topped the White Group after her third successive victory and, as a result, will face Australia's Sam Stosur in the semi-finals.
Zvonareva overcame the Belgian in a fiercely-contested opening set which ebbed and flowed in dramatic fashion before she stamped her authority on the encounter at 4-4, before taking the second 7-5.
The world number two began the match very slowly, having just made an emotional speech in tribute to the Elena Dementieva, who had announced her surprise retirement at the end of the previous match.
Clijsters broke her opponent's serve in only the second game, but Zvonareva quickly kicked into gear and hit straight back with a stunning flurry of groundstrokes.
It quickly became four breaks in successive games as neither player could find any rhythm or conviction on serve, and the opening set was back level at 4-4.
But Zvonareva was not finished in her assault of the Clijsters serve, and the Russian clinched the set with a break to lead 5-4 and a composed hold to follow.
Both players settled better into the second set, conscious of the need to hold serve and establish themselves early, but by the fourth game Clijsters had seized the initiative.
The Belgian broke to lead 3-1, only to squander her advantage yet again as Zvonareva forced her way back with a string of ferocious blows from the back of the court.
A cagey period followed as powerful groundstrokes were traded to little effect and at 5-5 the second set looked to be head inevitably towards a tie-break.
But the world number two had other ideas, and broke ruthlessly once more to lead 6-5, and another clinical and unflustered hold wrapped up a straight-sets win to continue her fine form in Doha.
Zvonareva will now play Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-finals on Saturday, while Clijsters will take on Stosur for a place in the final, and the Russian is braced for the challenge that the world number one will present.
"Caroline is a great player: she's the number one in the world," Zvonareva said.
"I know if I play my best tennis I can beat anyone on the other side of the net. But I know it's not easy to produce your best tennis every day."
WTA Championships : Vera Z