x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Henin and Clijsters reunion

Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, the Belgian comeback queens of the women's game, are each one win away from an intriguing pre-Australian Open showdown

Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, the Belgian comeback queens of the women's game, are each one win away from an intriguing pre-Australian Open showdown in the final of the Brisbane International tournament. Yesterday Henin, playing in her first event since she announced her retirement in May 2008, dropped a set to Hungarian seventh seed Melinda Czink and needed six match points before vanquishing her gritty opponent 6-2, 3-6, 7-6.

"That's the kind of match that I need," said Henin. "I came here to play matches and that's what I have done so I have no complaints." Similarly, Clisters is delighted with what she calls her second career. She won the US Open for the second time in September only a month after returning to the WTA Tour and she looks an outstanding prospect for back-to-back grand slams after seeing off the stubborn Brisbane challenge of the Czech Republic's Lucy Safarova in a fluctuating battle.

She also conceded a set and needed four match points before sealing her 6-0, 0-6, 6-4 passage to join her compatriot in today's semi-finals. Henin is looking forward to resuming rivalry today with another former French Open champion, Serbia's Ana Ivanovic, who is slowly playing her way back into the kind of form that earned her a brief reign as world No 1. Ivanovic, 22, secured her morale-boosting place in the last four with a 6-4, 7-6 victory over Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Defending men's champion Radek Stepanek recovered from a break down in the first set to beat American Wayne Odesnik 7-6, 6-1. The second-seeded Czech will now face third-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils, who beat veteran American James Blake in yesterday's other quarter-final.