Clijsters sputters into Aussie Open semis

MELBOURNE - Kim Clijsters reached the semifinals of the Australian Open despite a dreadfully inconsistent display in beating Martina Hingis 3-6 6-4 6-3.

The fourth seed broke Hingis in her first service game but some wild hitting saw her lose the first set 6-3. Clijsters, still spraying the ball everywhere, almost let slip a double break in the second but won it 6-4.

She then had to come from a break down in the decider before edging through to earn a semifinal with Maria Sharapova.

Clijsters also beat Hingis in three sets last year to end the Swiss player's fairytale return after three years off the tennis circuit.

This time around it is 23-year-old Clijsters who is looking for a perfect storyline in what will be her final appearance in Melbourne before retiring at the end of the season.

But she kept ripping up her own script in the Rod Laver Arena, with 62 unforced errors next to her name by the end of the two-hour match. Clijsters followed up powerful winner with overhit error as she rushed to finish off points.

Meanwhile, Sharapova overcame an error-strewn performance to beat Anna Chakvetadze and reach the last four of the Australian Open.

Twelfth seed Chakvetadze was twice a break up in the first set but eventually lost it on a tiebreak.

In the second set, it was Sharapova who twice led by a break but a slew of errors allowed her fellow Russian back. Chakvetadze had to save a match point at 4-5 down before Sharapova finally came through 7-6 (7-5) 7-5.

Sharapova has now reached the semifinals for the last three years. But the Russian will have to cut out her errors if she is to make her first Australian Open final after hitting 41 unforced errors, including six double faults, in her quarterfinal. - BBC