Henin-Hardenne beats Clijsters

Henin-Hardenne defeated fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters, 6-4, 7-6 (4), on Thursday to reach the Wimbledon final.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Justine Henin-Hardenne is one victory away from completing a career Grand Slam. Henin-Hardenne defeated fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters, 6-4, 7-6 (4), on Thursday to reach the Wimbledon final and close in on the one major title missing from her collection. The third-seeded Henin-Hardenne will face either No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo or 2004 champion Maria Sharapova in Saturday's championship match. Henin-Hardenne reached the final here in 2001, losing to Venus Williams. Since then, she has won three French Opens and one US Open and Australian Open. By taking Wimbledon, she would become only the 10th woman to win all four Grand Slams. Thursday's match was the 20th career tour-level meeting between the Belgians and seventh at a Grand Sam, but their first at Wimbledon. Henin-Hardenne evened the series at 10-10, winning for the third time in a month after victories in the French Open quarters and the Eastbourne grass-court event. Henin-Hardenne has now won 17 straight matches and 13 consecutive Grand Slam matches without dropping a set. She can become the first player in the Open era to win the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back without losing a set. "I'm playing good tennis, I'm aggressive," Henin-Hardenne said. "I try to play calm. I hope I can go to the end." Also Thursday, the last of the men's semifinals berths was being decided between French Open champion Rafael Nadal and Finland's Jarkko Nieminen. Their quarterfinal was postponed on Wednesday after Jonas Bjorkman's five-set victory over Radek Stepanek took six and a half hours, including two rain delays totaling two and a half hours. The Nadal-Nieminen winner will face Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, who upset 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Wednesday. The other men's semifinal will pit Bjorkman against three-time defending champion Roger Federer, who defeated Mario Ancic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to extend his grass-court winning streak to 46 matches and reach his ninth consecutive Grand Slam semi. (AP)