Kim Clijsters of Belgium serves during her quarterfinal against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland on the 10th day of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Wednesday. Clijsters won 6-3, 7-6 (4) to reach the semis. [Photo/Agencies]
MELBOURNE - Misfiring Kim Clijsters on Wednesday admitted she will be on her way out of the Australian Open if she cannot improve in her crunch semifinal with in-form Russian Vera Zvonareva.
The three-time Grand Slam winner and third seed turned in an error-strewn performance as she struggled past Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 7-6 (4) to reach her sixth Australian Open semifinal.
The reigning US Open champion will now play second-seeded Zvonareva who, in stark contrast, was highly impressive as she beat Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-4 earlier in the day.
Clijsters made 37 unforced errors and served six double-faults against Radwanska, who played a limited game but still managed to give the world No 3 a big scare in the second set.
"Everything has to be better (against Zvonareva)," Clijsters said. "I mean, serving, returning, the unforced errors. Everything has to be better.
"But I'm in the semifinals and I don't feel like I've played my best tennis probably.
"So it's a good thing. I feel that I'm hanging in there, working hard to win my points. Sometimes that's probably even more of an achievement than winning your matches very easily."
Clijsters acknowledged she only had 24 hours to get things right before her semifinal.
"I'm going to try, we'll see tomorrow," she said after her quarterfinal victory. "I mean, I know that I'm also going to have to go out there and play harder, hit the lines better and everything.
"Thinking about the experience that I've had throughout the years, you know, I've always been able to kind of lift, not always but most of the time, I've been able to lift my game when it was really necessary.
"So hopefully I can count on that experience a little bit as well - we'll see."
The 28-year-old Belgian conceded she had struggled against Radwanska.
"I didn't feel that great," she said. "I felt heavy in the legs - I felt tired out there but I just hung in there.
"I fought well and stayed really focused, tried not to lose too much energy on getting frustrated and things like that.
"I mean, it got close in that second set. I felt that there were a few things I did really well, but there were also a few things that didn't feel quite right every time out there.
"There were rallies where I felt good, I was hitting the ball - there were rallies when I didn't feel right in the position where I should be at."
Clijsters played Zvonareva in two Grand Slams in 2010, losing to her in three sets in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon but thrashing her 6-1, 6-2 in the final at Flushing Meadows.
"(Zvonareva's) a player who will be very consistent throughout a whole match, will not really mix her game up tremendously," Clijsters said.