Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 1/24/12
Kim Clijsters called it her "Nadal forehand" and it took her to two match points against Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. The look on her face after she saw that ball explode away for a clear winner was one of total relief, almost to the point of tears. "Yes, I was happy with the way I hit that one," she replied with a smile. "That was such an important point and I just tried to hit a Nadal forehand. I just had to go for it, I felt I could rip it inside out." And she did, setting herself up for 6-3, 7-6 win that had seemed suddenly less certain when Wozniacki, fighting tooth and nail as she always does, broke back when Clijsters had served for the match. "I just had to try and be a little more dominant again," Clijsters said. "She stepped up her game and served better in the second set. It was so hot out there today (95 F) so today it was really tough -- I think one of the toughest conditions I've ever played in." It was tough mentally and physically because Clijsters was playing with that ankle injury which had occupied the 48 hours since her match against Li Na when she had saved four match points. She described what it had been like just trying to make sure she could get back on court. "Laying on the couch, every 20 minutes ice, 20 minutes off, 20 minutes ice. Leg elevated. Lymphatic drainage, all that stuff. A light hit yesterday without any sideways movement, just try to get a feel for the ball and then back to the icing and that same routine all over again." She had refused a scan on her ankle. "I said, no more! Whatever it is, I'm going to have to try and make the most out of it. I already had a scan on my neck a couple of days ago. I have seen enough hospitals these last six months than anything, so no more for me." No one can tell how much the ankle was hurting but Kim suggested the pain was pretty effectively dulled because all the medication had made her suffer more with her stomach than anything else. Either way, it is not all fun and games trying to retain a Grand Slam title. Nor is it amusing to have to answer questions about not having won a Slam when you are No. 1 in the world. That has been poor Wozniacki's lot for the last 18 months. But the questions will cease for a while now because, whatever happens, she will no longer be the top-ranked player in the world next Monday. Having reached the semifinals here last year, she has dropped points by losing a round earlier and either Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka, who had a relatively easy 6-7, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska earlier in the day, will become the new No. 1. Wozniacki, who was spotted having a glum conversation with her father -- who is also her coach -- in the players' lounge afterwards, refused to be downbeat in press conference. "I start laughing every time the media talks to me like I'm finishing my career and time is running out," she said with a hint of exasperation. "The fact is I have quite a few years in front of me. I can still improve. In the end you can just do your best. You can't do anything more than that." Clijsters is firmly in her corner. "People are almost in a way blaming her for being No. 1," she said. "That's something that is really absurd. I think she's great for the game. She's a great player. She works extremely hard. She's good enough. It took me a couple years (to win a Slam being No. 1), it's taken other people a while as well. It's all a matter of experience and improving. Then she will definitely get there." After the women's singles, Roger Federer appeared on Rod Laver Arena, now being graced by Laver himself who had just flown in from California, and put on another brilliant exhibition worthy of such exalted company. Federer raced to a 3-0 lead and duly completed the 1,000th match of his amazing career with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Juan Martin del Potro, the Argentine who had beaten him in the 2009 US Open final. When he took the first set it was also the 2000th set he had won. Federer just chuckled when he was told. "Today? That was the 2000th? Amazing." Nothing is ever quite as easy as it looks and Federer admitted that he was worried about the shadow creeping across the stadium when he had to save four break points while serving for the second set. "It was tough to see the ball with the sun coming in at angle from one side so I was pretty happy to hit that winner down the line to save one of them," he said. "I really didn't know where it was going. It could have been two feet out for all I knew." But it wasn't and del Potro, who was striking the ball perfectly well from the back court, just found himself outmaneuvered by a maestro who seems to be playing as well as ever.
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