Clijsters, Li face off in Sydney final

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SYDNEY – Two-time champion Kim Clijsters will play China’s Li Na in the final of the Sydney International after a marathon three-set victory on Thursday. Clijsters struggled early before storming home in a final set tiebreaker to overcome unseeded Russian Alisa Kleybanova, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) in 2hr 39min. The Belgian third seed will now take on Li, who earlier wore down Serbian qualifier Bojana Jovanovski 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 in 1hr 40min. Clijsters, 27, who won here in 2003 and 2007, will be bidding for her 41st career singles title in Friday’s final, while Li is after her fourth WTA title.
“The last match I played against Alisa was a tough one and I lost to her, so I knew today was going to be tough,” Clijsters said. “She’s a very unpredictable player. Her game is very tough to read and it makes it a little bit harder to react at the right time every time.”
Li, 28, who will be defending her rankings points from last year’s semi-final appearance at next week’s Australian Open, was looking forward to her showdown with the world number three. “I have nothing to lose because I have played her also many times,” said Li, who trails 1-4 in their meetings. “She’s a great player, so I just have to show my best tennis on the court.”
TROICKI DOWNS
GASQUET: Viktor Troicki continued to be a nemesis for French players when he knocked out last year’s finalist Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals of the Sydney International on Thursday. The Serbian fourth seed was too strong for Gasquet, winning 6-4, 6-4 in 77 minutes to set up a Friday semi-final with Germany’s Florian Mayer. In Friday’s other semi-final Frenchman Gilles Simon will play Ernests Gulbis, the Latvian third seed.