| Kim Clijsters after her victory, on Wednesday. (Getty Images) |
Sydney: Kim Clijsters underlined her growing status as Australian Open favourite with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Victoria Azarenka to reach the Sydney International semi-finals, on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old third seed, who won the warm-up event for Melbourne Park twice before her sabbatical from the game to have a child, said, however, that it was far too early to talk about winning the opening grand slam of the year for the first time.
Favourites, it really doesnt mean anything. Really doesnt, Clijsters said. Every match and every tournament has to be played. You all start 128 players start from scratch. Its the same for everybody from the start.
The US Open champion, the highest remaining womens seed in the draw after the departures of world numbers one and two Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva, needed to draw on her experience against the Belarussian.
I think the score definitely sounds a lot easier than it was, said the Belgian, who will face Alisa Kleybanova in the last four after the Russian beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.
I played the important points better ... I think thats obviously a good feeling to have when Im down breakpoint I can hit a good serve.
Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potros comeback from injury faltered, however, when his lack of match practice was exposed in the mens second round.
The 22-year-old Argentine declared himself free of pain when he won his first match in a year in three sets on Monday but he was well beaten 6-2 7-5 by Germanys Florian Mayer.
Everything is tough after long, long time, Del Potro said. But if Im here its because I want to play. I want to try again. Thats what Im thinking every day. I dont want to feel bad, you know.
Last year was very bad year for me, and now Im okay. I am in good shape ... I lost, but Im in the competition again.
Top mens seed American Sam Querreys tournament lasted just 62 minutes before he was bundled out 6-4, 6-3 by Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.
The first match of the year, it was very windy out there, said Querrey. Hes a tough guy to play in the wind. Hes got a massive serve and kind of slices the ball around.
It was the first time since 2002 that both top seeds had lost their first matches at the tournament.
Chinas Li Na also confirmed her fine early season form by becoming the first player into the womens semis with a 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 victory over Russian twice grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The world number 11, who reached her first grand slam semi-final at Melbourne Park last year, fought back from a set and 5-3 down to reach the last four in Sydney for the second time.
Weve played many times, said the 28-year-old.Maybe at the beginning of the match I didnt have the energy to fight against her but when I was 5-3 down, I woke up again.
Li faces Bojana Jovanowski for a place in the final after the Serbian beat Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-4, 6-1.