Clijsters injures hip, quits Brisbane semi-final
BRISBANE, Australia (AP):Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters quit her semi-final because of an ailing hip yesterday, the second top player in the Brisbane International to sustain an injury leading to the year's first major.
Clijsters won the opening set 7-6 (4) against Daniela Hantuchova, but was broken at the start of the second set and needed treatment after the third game. She came back on court for one game before walking to the net and telling Hantuchova she couldn't continue after falling behind 3-1.
"I felt my left hip was getting tighter and tighter to the point I couldn't move forward with my upper body," Clijsters said. "So it was the smartest choice to try and not let it get any worse, to be ready for Melbourne."
Hantuchova has had an abbreviated run into today's final. She had a walkover in the quarter-finals when 13-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams withdrew after injuring her left ankle during a second-round victory.
No. 24-ranked Hantuchova will be aiming for her fifth WTA Tour title when she plays No. 34-ranked Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, who defeated 2010 French Open winner Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-3, 6-0 in the other semi-final. The third-seeded Schiavone complained of a stomach upset after the match.
Clijsters and Williams, the 2010 Australian Open champion, were playing their first tournaments in four months. The top two seeded players tumbled early in the women's draw, with US Open champion Sam Stosur ousted in the second round and No. 2 Andrea Petkovic losing to Kanepi in the quarter-finals.
Clijsters struggled with injuries last season and played only eight tournaments, including the win at the Australian Open that helped her return to No. 1 for one week.
The Brisbane International was her first tournament since an abdominal injury ended her season in September. This setback casts doubt on her ability to defend her title at the Australian Open, which starts on January 16 in Melbourne.