Clijsters, Li reach Sydney International final

Associated Press
Li Na of China, celebrates winning her match against Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia during the Sydney International Tennis Tournament  in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011.(AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

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Li Na of China, celebrates winning her match against Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia during the Sydney International …

U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters came from a break down in the deciding set to beat Alisa Kleybanova of Russia 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1) on Thursday and advance to the Sydney International final.

Clijsters will play Li Na of China, who beat Bojana Jovanovski 7-6 (5), 6-3.

"If she plays like that, I think she's definitely a contender to beat a lot of top players," Clijsters said of Kleybanova's chances at the Australian Open. "It was last year when she played Justine (Henin) where she almost beat her in the Australian Open. That's a perfect example of how well she can play. So I think she is definitely a player who's a very tough outsider and can make it very tough for a lot of the players."

In the men's tournament, Gilles Simon advanced to the semifinals by beating Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 6-4, 6-3. Simon's victory set up a meeting with third-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, who beat Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4.

In the other semifinal match, Florian Mayer of Germany will play Viktor Troicki of Serbia. Mayer beat Potito Starace of Italy 6-4, 6-1, and Troicki defeated Richard Gasquet of France 6-4, 6-4.

Simon and Dolgopolov both earned their places in the quarterfinals after completing rain-delayed first round matches Wednesday morning, then returning to the court for second round matches in the afternoon. The tough schedule fully tested Simon's gradual recovery from injuries that blighted his 2010.

After the win, Simon said he feels he is back to the form that saw him reach No. 6 in the world rankings.

"The thing is in tennis it's always a matter of confidence," Simon said. "You have to win some good matches and to beat the top guys.

"That's why I'm working hard to come back as soon as possible. I'm (ranked 41) now. I hope to reach top 30 or top 20 really as soon as possible because I know it will be better with the draws and everything."

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