Clijsters reaches Stanford semis

July 29, 2006 12:42 AM
Kim Clijsters 373 x 374

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Kim Clijsters held off a spirited, strange effort from wild card Vera Zvonareva on Friday night, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 to reach the semifinals of the Bank of the West Classic.

Tatiana Golovin, Patty Schnyder and Nicole Vaidisova also had straight-set victories to advance to the semifinals at the Taube Family Tennis Center on Stanford's campus.

While Golovin's 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over fourth-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld was the only upset, the top-seeded Clijsters arguably had the toughest match against Zvonareva, the rising 21-year-old Russian who won last week's tournament in Cincinnati.

After an easy first set, Clijsters was broken twice by Zvonareva in the second. But the three-time Bank of the West champion gathered herself in the third set, earning two straight breaks -- and then the frustrated Zvonareva started talking to herself, bouncing her racket on the court and even throwing a ball at the wall.

Patty Schnyder 225 wide

In the afternoon session, the second-seeded Schnyder reached the semifinals with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Jill Craybas. Vaidisova then won her second match in less than 24 hours, defeating Samantha Stosur 6-4, 6-2.

Golovin, who upset sixth-seeded Ai Sugiyama in the second round, survived a tight match with Groenefeld, even rallying from a 4-1 deficit in the second-set tiebreaker. The Moscow-born, France-raised, Miami-based teenager adjusted well to Groenefeld's spinning groundstrokes.

"There were so many close points that the difference was just millimeters," Groenefeld said. "I tried to dictate points, but her game is the same way and she is very strong on her forehand side and can control points with it well."

Golovin will face Schnyder in Saturday's semifinals, hoping to reach just the third final of her career.

Schnyder, the world No. 8, relied on her serve to turn a difficult match against Craybas, the lone American in a quarterfinal field featuring eight players from eight different countries.

Though Schnyder remains dissatisfied with her game, the left-handed Swiss player reached her second semifinal in two weeks, following last week's loss Katarina Srebotnik in Cincinnati.

"I was kind of up and down," Schnyder said. "(Craybas) surprised me with her forehands down the line. She was very aggressive, and I didn't expect that."

Vaidisova, the 17-year-old French Open semifinalist, will face Clijsters. Vaidisova and Golovin played an entertaining Fed Cup match earlier in the month, with Vaidisova winning 6-1, 3-6, 11-9.