Wimbledon 2010: Zvonareva stuns Clijsters in quarters
Wimbledon Championships Venue: All England Club, London Date: 21 June - 4 July Coverage: Live on BBC One and Two, HD, Red Button, BBC Sport website (UK only), Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra; live text commentary online and on mobile phones; watch again on BBC iPlayer
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Clijsters comeback crushed by Zvonareva
By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Wimbledon
Russia's Vera Zvonareva held her nerve superbly to beat Kim Clijsters at Wimbledon and reach only her second Grand Slam semi-final.
The 21st seed won 3-6 6-4 6-2 to end the Belgian's first campaign at the All England Club after four years away.
Zvonareva proved much the stronger as the match wore on, with Clijsters' game becoming increasingly ragged.
The 25-year-old from Moscow will next face Tsvetana Pironkova after the Bulgarian stunned Venus Williams.
Clijsters, 27, went into the match with a 5-0 record against Zvonareva but this was their first meeting since the Belgian ended her two-year spell in retirement last summer.
With clouds gathered over Centre Court for the first time in the fortnight, both players made a stuttering start to the quarter-final.
Semi-final spot is a dream - Zvonareva
Clijsters chased down a lob, turned, and fired a backhand winner down the line on a spectacular first point before Zvonareva gave an early sign that she was not about to be streamrollered by coming into the net to angle away a fine volley.
The Belgian saw off an early break point at the net but after making a slow start in her previous match against Justine Henin, she was sloppy again in missing three break points from 0-40 in game four, twice finding the net with regulation groundstrokes.
Clijsters found first serves when necessary to see off another couple of break points at 3-3 and a Zvonareva double-fault opened the door in the following game, allowing Clijsters to power away a forehand on her fifth break point of the day.
It's too bad I wasn't able to come up with my best at the important time in the match
With confidence renewed, the US Open champion resumed her usual breathless pace to rattle off her next service game and seal a scrappy set after 38 minutes.
Zvonareva looked understandably frustrated when a lob missed by inches on break point at the start of the second but she remained more than a match for Clijsters from the baseline and finally earned a break for 3-1.
The Russian looked like she had thrown it away when she was broken at 5-3, thanks in part to a hugely fortuitous net cord for Clijsters on break point, but the Belgian returned the favour with a double-fault on set point in the next game and a final set was required.
As Zvonareva's game had sharpened up over the opening 75 minutes, so the errors had begun to flow from Clijsters, and she needed a big forehand and an ace to fend off two break points at the start of the third.
The eighth seed's forehand had almost completely broken down and two errors allowed the increasingly assured Zvonareva to move into a 3-1 lead.
As Clijsters racked up a total of 35 unforced errors, the sometimes temperamental Zvonareva remained impressively calm as she converted her second match point to reach the semis of a Grand Slam for the first time since Australia last year.
"I was able to hang in there and play some good tennis today," Zvonareva told BBC Sport.
"It's definitely been one of my dreams to be here in the semi-finals. I remember as a kid watching Wimbledon on the TV and I'm looking forward to the semi-final, I'm really excited about my game today."
Clijsters said: "It's too bad I wasn't able to come up with my best at the important time in the match. She did. She was very consistent, didn't give me any easy mistakes. I gave her a few too many."
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