• Australian Open, Day Six

Clijsters and Zvonareva fight their way through

ESPN staff
January 22, 2011
Kim Clijsters had to grit her teeth and battle her way past Alize Cornet © Getty Images

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Kim Clijsters put in an error-riddled performance but still had enough to get past Alize Cornet 7-6 6-3 in her Australian Open third round clash on Saturday.

No.3 seed Clijsters gave up 41 unforced errors - nearly two thirds of the points Cornet won - and hit just 13 winners to the Frenchwoman's eight in what she will hope was a mid-tournament blip and not the start of a form slump. Clijsters also hit six double faults and was broken three times but she jumped all over Cornet's second serve to earn four breaks of her own on her way to victory.

With Venus Williams and Justine Henin out of the tournament, Clijsters is many pundits' tip for the title but she will need to perform better to overcome the likes of No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva, who eliminated Lucie Safarova 6-3 7-6. Zvonareva did not have things all her own way as Safarova put up a stern resistance in the second set. Having forced a tie-break, she saved two match points and earned a set point of her own but Zvonareva eventually clinched a dramatic finale with a well-measured lob.

Zvonareva said afterwards she is focusing on the decision-making area of her game: "I have all the shots in my game. I can go crosscourt, down the line, short, deep. You name it, I can do it all. But once the ball comes, you have all those options in your head and you're like, Okay, which one do I choose? Sometimes I choose all different ones, and maybe they're not the best against this opponent. So now I'm just trying to stick to what I have to do in this particular match against this particular opponent. Even though I like to play and I like to mix it up, now I'm just trying to stick to the plan."

Home favourite Sam Stosur was the big casualty of the day after she crashed out in somewhat limp fashion to Petra Kvitova 7-6(5) 6-3. No. 5 seed Stosur had been a fancied dark horse for the tournament after reaching his maiden grand slam final at Roland Garros last year, but she could not deliver in front of her own fans.

Kvitova, seeded 25, was in inspired form as she hit 35 winners in the contest, more than tripling Stosur's winners count. The Czech player also hit five aces and looks a dangerous opponent for the latter stages of the competition.

The seeds continued to tumble in the Melbourne heat, with No. 13 seed Nadia Petrova crashing out 6-2 3-6 8-6 to Ekaterina Makarova in one of the tournament's best thrillers so far. No. 16 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova missed out on the chance to face fellow Russian Zvonareva in the next round, instead going down to Iveta Benesova 6-3 1-6 7-5.

Agnieszka Radwanska got through unscathed, seeing off the threat of Simona Halep 6-1 6-2. Shuai Peng won the all-Eastern affair against Ayumi Morita 6-1 3-6 6-3 in yet another third round three-setter, but 10th seed Shahar Peer could not find a way past Flavia Pennetta, who won 3-6 7-6(3) 6-4.

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