Clijsters to face Serena Williams in semi-final

Defending US Open champion Serena Williams will play comeback queen Kim Clijsters (picture) on Thursday for a place in the final. Both players sailed through their quarter-finals in straight sets.


AFP - Kim Clijsters will carefully scrutinize the face of Serena Williams when the two take to the court on Thursday for a US Open showdown that promises to be the matchup of the tournament.

That way, she will know just what to expect from the defending champion and tournament favourite in their semi-final.

"Serena, I've seen her play here, and she has that face where she's like, 'OK, I'm here to do business.'

"But that doesn't mean that you don't get chances when you get to play her.

"So that's something that I'm going to be really focused on is obviously to play aggressive tennis and dominate, you know, try to dominate a lot of points."

The Belgian, whose return to action after two years out of the sport during which time she married and had a baby daughter has been one of the most compelling stories of the tournament, has cause to be concerned.

Her head-to-head record against the American, who is 18 months older, reads a daunting one win against seven defeats, although the last time they played surprisingly was over six years ago in Miami when Williams won 6-4, 6-2.

Clijsters' only victory came during the 2002 Tour Championships.

But the 2005 US Open champion is still something of a loose canon in New York, unsure, even in her own mind, just how much the two years out of tennis has changed her game and altered her mental toughness.

"I even feel better physically," Clijsters said when asked to compare her fitness now and in May, 2007 when she retired.

"I've had a lot of time to work on my physical weaknesses in the past just because I had seven, eight months where I could really just focus on those things.

"So I'm really enjoying every ball I can run to without worrying about anything being sore. It's a good feeling to have."

Serena, who cruised past Italy's Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-3, and has lost just 24 games in five matches, said she was aware that she could get stoney-faced when the stakes were high.

"I'm not aware of it, but I see it afterwards in the photos. I'm pretty horrified sometimes," she said.

Still, she admitted, it would be hard to build up any reserves of animosity towards Clijsters, whom she described as being "just a really good-hearted individual who takes tennis seriously and takes life more seriously.

"But if I can play against Venus, I can pretty much play against anyone," she said.

Semi-final victim Pennetta was in doubt over who the favourite would be on Thursday.

"For me, Serena and Venus are the best when they are in shape and when they are fit, they are the number ones," she said.

"When you play with Serena you have to play always your best tennis and you cannot make a mistake."

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning