Clijsters & Zvonareva move on to round 4.

Vera Zvonareva and Kim Clijsters both came through tough encounters to reach round four of the Australian Open. Second seed Zvonareva was twice broken when serving for the match against Lucie Safarova but won 6-3 7-6 (11-9). Clijsters, seeded third, battled to a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 victory over Alize Cornet after a tense opening set. Zvonareva was matched stroke for stroke by Safarova in the early stages before breaking serve for a 4-2 lead and soon serving out the opening set. Czech 31st seed Safarova hinted at a swift riposte when she engineered two break points in the game two of the second set, but Zvonareva saved both before holding serve with a stunning backhand pass. The world number two maintained her momentum by breaking for a 2-1 lead and at that stage it seemed as though she would ease home. Safarova continued to battle hard and levelled at 4-4, only to spoil all her hard work when she immediately dropped serve once more as Zvonareva edged to within a game of victory. But she could not see it out, a further three breaks of serve taking the set to a tie-break in which Safarova wasted set points at 6-5 and 9-8. In between, Zvonareva squandered two match points. The key point came at 9-9 when a Zvonareva backhand was initially called out, only to be ruled in after a Hawkeye challenge. And there was no slip-up third time round as the Wimbledon and US Open runner-up induced an error from Safarova to seal her win. “Lucie is a great player and I had to hang in there and fight for every point,” said Zvonareva of her former doubles partner. “It was a very good match for me and I am happy to be through to the next round.” Standing between Zvonareva and a place in the quarter-finals is another Czech, Iveta Benesova, who shocked 16th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Clijsters made hard work of her meeting with Cornet, committing 41 unforced errors, including six double faults, in a match featuring seven breaks of serve. The first of those came in the opening game and helped Clijsters into a 3-1 lead, but the Belgian was broken in the fifth game and also let slip a 5-3 lead. However, Cornet was unable to take advantage of the situation and crumbled in the tie-break, losing the first five points as Clijsters eventually took the opening set after 54 minutes. Cornet showed some fighting spirit in the second set and saved two match points in the eighth game, but Clijsters then served out to complete an unconvincing win.


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