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Clijsters rallies past V. Williams in Open

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NEW YORK -- Kim Clijsters took a giant step toward removing the label of best tennis player never to win a major with a stirring come-from-behind victory against reigning Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in the U.S. Open.

The 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 quarterfinal win by the Belgian began just past 10:30 p.m. Tuesday and ended more than two hours later early Wednesday.

No.4 seed Clijsters now faces top-seeded Maria Sharapova, who downed fellow Russian Nadia Petrova 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in the earlier match Tuesday in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"I wasn't really thinking about the score," said Clijsters, who trailed by a set and 2-4 before scraping her way back into the match with gutsy retrievals and timely returning, converting eight of 12 break points. "I just tried to keep fighting and keep running for each ball."

Two-time Open champ Williams broke in the second game of the match, only to have Clijsters return the favor in the next game. The two traded blistering forehands and backhands -- punctuated by occasional forays to the net by Williams and baseline splits by Clijsters -- until Williams took advantage of three Clijsters errors in the 10th game to take the set.

In the second set, Williams broke for a 3-1 and 4-2 lead, but each time, Clijsters broke right back. There were seven breaks in the error-filled set, with Clijsters finally holding serve at 6-5 to even the match.

A weary-looking Williams faded in the third set, perhaps drained by beating younger sister Serena two days earlier. As Clijsters sprinted from corner to corner, Williams' shots slowly lost punch. She lost 11 of the last 13 games and finished with 51 unforced errors to Clijsters' 38 but hit just two more winners with 20.

Clijsters has reached the No.1 ranking, won 27 WTA Tour titles and played in four Grand Slam finals but has yet to win a major. But she has to like her chances now. She holds a 3-0 career mark against Sharapova, her semifinal opponent.

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