Injured Clijsters stages amazing comeback against Li Na to enter quarters in her last Australian Open
Defending champion Kim Clijsters saved four match points in an astounding comeback against China's Li Na yesterday as top seed Caroline Wozniacki also reached the Australian Open quarter-finals. Clijsters, who rolled her ankle midway through the first set and needed medical treatment, fought back from 6-2 down in a second-set tie-break to defeat shell-shocked Li 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 in 2hrs 23mins.
Fighter: Kim Clijsters plays a forehand shot against Li Na. Pics/Getty Images
Earlier, third seed Victoria Azarenka defeated Czech Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-2 and Agnieszka Radwanska, the eighth seed, smashed Germany's Julia Goerges 6-1, 6-1 to set up a quarter-final clash. Clijsters staged a magnificent turnaround after looking down and out as she hobbled to her chair at 3-3 in the first set when she hurt her ankle during a baseline rally.
Li Na looks dejected
Her sheer determination enthralled the big crowd in Rod Laver Arena, who swung their support behind the 28-year-old, making her last tournament appearance in Australia before retiring at the end of 2012. "A couple of times it went through my mind (to retire from the match), but I didn't want to quit at my last time at the Australian Open," she said.
Clijsters managed to hold her serve after the injury, coming back from a break point down to save the game, but Li then broke Clijsters' next service game and took the first set. After going down an early break in the second Clijsters broke to get back on level terms and into a tie-break.
Li opened a 6-2 lead, only for Clijsters to win six points in a row to level the match. She then raced to a 4-0 lead in the third set as Li buckled. The Belgian served for the match once at 5-2 but was broken, then had a second chance at 5-4 and this time made no mistake, claiming victory when a Li backhand hit the net on her second match point.
The four-time grand slam champion, who intends to retire this year, will play Wozniacki on Tuesday after the Dane's 6-0, 7-5 win over Serbia's Jelena Jankovic.