Kim Clijsters cans Ekaterina Makarova to reach last eight
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Third seed Kim Clijsters overcame the night chill and a sluggish start to beat Russia's Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 6-2 and march into the Australian Open quarter-finals Monday.
The Belgian, a three-times grand slam champion and Melbourne runner-up in 2004, sealed a tough victory a little after midnight local time with a drilled backhand crosscourt.
"She was unpredictable," Clijsters told reporters. "I had to get a feel for it.
"In the second set I started being a bit more aggressive. I had to really step it up and finish it off," added the tournament favourite, who followed men's number one Rafa Nadal as the last match on Rod Laver Arena.
"I was very happy Rafa finished it off in three sets."
Clijsters squandered an early break gifted to her by a nervous Makarova and was forced to a first set tiebreak, which she took 7-3 on a cold evening in Melbourne.
Normal service resumed in the second set, although Clijsters needed to take anti-inflammatory pills for a tight hamstring in a minor scare.
However, she had already found the range with her heavier groundstrokes and broke the Russian twice to set up a clash with Polish 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
"At important moments, like in the tiebreak, she played unbelievable -- fighting for every point," said the 49th-ranked Makariva after her best grand slam run to date.
"I just have to go for every ball because if I wait for a mistake from her, I have no chance to win. She was better on the big points."
(Editing by Justin Palmer)
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