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Clijsters Shakes Off Martinez Sanchez, Zvonareva Advances

Defending Sony Ericsson Open champion Kim Clijsters halted Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez to advance to the fourth round at the Sony Ericsson Open. That victory marked the 500th of Clijsters’ career.

Martinez Sanchez is know for her craftiness and in their first meeting, the Spaniard gave Clijsters plenty to think about. Using the dropshot, volleys and slice to offset Clijsters’ power.

Clijsters and Martinez Sanchez were all squared in the break department until Clijsters broke for a second time which made the difference in the first set.

Martinez Sanchez captured an early break in the second set, but Clijsters found the means to level the set. Still at 4 all, Martinez Sanchez fired a winner for double break point. When Clijsters’ forehand landed long, the Spaniard went ahead 5-4.

Subsequently, with a volley winner, Martinez Sanchez arrived at double set point and converted when Clijsters’ return traveled long.

In the deciding set, Clijsters secured a quick break and consolidated to move in front 3-0. However, when Clijsters flubbed a pass, Martinez Sanchez had her second break opportunity of the game. With Clijsters netting a backhand, Martinez Sanchez was gifted the break.

Yet, with a double fault on break point, Martinez Sanchez handed Clijsters a 4-2 edge. Clijsters was able to consolidate. Then with triple match point, Clijsters struck a forehand up the line winner to bed the proceedings.

Martinez Sanchez is not a garden variety player. As such, asked Clijsters what she found difficult about facing such an opponent: “she’s a lefty. That’s always a little bit tougher. . . Just the way she played, as well, she reminded me [of Alize] Cornet at the Australian Open. . . She had a really flat backhand and a forehand she hits with some more topspin. It’s always a little hard when you have a player who plays two totally different shots on each side”.

Further, Clijsters explained “[at times], my footwork wasn’t right and I was not playing the game that I should be playing. I’m the one who should be going for the lines and being aggressive and stepping into the court. A couple of times I felt like I was in a backhand rally with her that she was dictating a lot of the points. That’s obviously not the right thing to do against somebody like her”.

At Indian Wells, due to a shoulder injury, Clijsters had problems with her serve and was forced to retire in her match against Marion Bartoli. Thus, inquired as to the status of that shoulder. Clijsters replied: “I’m very relieved that it is getting better, because I was really worried there. . . It takes a lot of work and I have to focus a lot of my attention and my time on my shoulder. But, I know if I can do that, it will stay stable. That’s what I’m hoping for”.

Ana Ivanovic came through against veteran Virginie Razzano. Ivanovic progressed 2-6, 6-2, 3-0 as Razzano retired with a left thigh strain. For the first time in three years, Ivanovic is into the fourth round in Miami and will battle Clijsters for a quarterfinal berth.

In terms of that match-up, Clijsters expressed “I always root for her. . .It’s so nice to see that she’s doing well and that she’s happy and playing well. But, obviously tomorrow night I will just try and do what I do well and what I have done well against her in the past, and that’s . . . be really aggressive and go for the lines”.

Francesca Schiavone is also into the fourth round. Schiavone defeated Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-4, 7-6. Agnieszka Radwanska will be Schiavone’s counterpart in the next round. Radwanska ousted Maria Kirilenko 7-6, 6-3.

Third seed, Vera Zvonareva beat Jarmila Groth in straight sets while Bartoli pounced Ekaterina Makarova 6-0, 6-2. This sets up a fourth round match between the two winners.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova downed Petra Kvitova in three sets. The Russian will face the winner of the Victoria Azarenka/ Dominika Cibulkova which takes place in the night session.

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