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Clijsters, Zvonareva facing off in semis

MELBOURNE, Australia — Kim Clijsters moved into an Australian Open semifinal showdown with second-ranked Vera Zvonareva, beating Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) early today as planes flew in formation overhead as part of celebrations for the national holiday.

Cannons went off when Zvonareva started the Australia Day proceedings at Rod Laver Arena with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Petra Kvitova.

Thursday's semifinal will be a rematch of the most recent U.S. Open final, in which Clijsters collected her third Grand Slam title.

Clijsters is the only Grand Slam winner into the women's semis, although she's still seeking her first major title outside America. No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki and Li Na meet in the other semifinal.

"I hope the experience can help me a little bit," Clijsters said. "But there are some tough players out there; we have Nos. 1, 2, 3 still in, and Li Na has been playing really well. So it is going to be really tough."

Zvonareva has lost the past two Grand Slam finals, to Clijsters in New York and Serena Williams at Wimbledon.

Clijsters was up a set and a break before Radwanska rallied, winning three straight games to lead 5-4 with a chance to serve for the second set.

With six Royal Australian Air Force "Roulettes" flying overhead, Clijsters converted her fourth break-point chance to tie it at 5 and the set went to a tiebreaker.

"I think the planes kind of took me up higher!" Clijsters said.

Zvonareva and Kvitova were surprised when cannons went off in a nearby park.

And Zvonareva asked that the match be stopped for a few minutes while a woman in her sightline was given medical attention in the stands, but chair umpire Mariana Alves told them to continue.

"I didn't know they were going to start this noise during our match; it was a difficult moment," said Zvonareva, who led the final set 3-0 before the disruptions then saw Kvitova level it at 4-4. "You're here to play tennis. … I was trying to keep my concentration."

Fed Cup: Vania King will take the U.S. Fed Cup spot originally expected to be filled by Venus Williams at next month's quarterfinal against Belgium.

U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez said King is part of the squad that includes surprise 2009 U.S. Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and leading doubles player Liezel Huber. Williams told Fernandez she couldn't participate after injuring her hip last week at the Australian Open.

.Fast facts

Key results

Men: Djokovic (3) d. Berdych (6) 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1

Women: Zvonareva (2) d. Kvitova (25) 6-2, 6-4; Clijsters (3) d. Radwanska (12) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4); Wozniacki (1) d. Schiavone (6) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3

Tonight on TV: 9:30, ESPN2

Clijsters, Zvonareva facing off in semis 01/25/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 12:17am]
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