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Clijsters, Li set for repeat of classic 2011 final
Question of the Day
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) - Kim Clijsters and Li Na won their matches in contrasting styles on Friday to set up a repeat of last year's Australian Open final in the fourth round.
Defending champion Clijsters beat Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets. Li went through after Anabel Medina Garrigues twisted her ankle and tearfully retired while trailing 3-0.
Clijsters beat Li 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 at the 2011 Australian Open for her only title of the year. She later was sidelined by injuries.
"That was one of my favorite matches I've ever played. I won, so that helped," she said. "Of all the Grand Slam finals I've played, that was the one with the highest standard."
Li won the next Grand Slam she entered, lifting the French Open trophy to become the first Asian player to win a major singles title.
"Although she lost, I think it helped her to win the French Open," Clijsters said.
"After that match I was feeling I really can win the Grand Slam," she said.
Clijsters takes a 5-2 career advantage into the match. Li said fans will witness similar styles.
"I think we play the same way, like play against a mirror," she said.
TOUGH QUESTIONS: Jelena Jankovic is speaking from experience when she tells the media to lay off Caroline Wozniacki.
Jankovic will play top-ranked Wozniacki in the fourth round of the Australian Open in a meeting of players who held the No. 1 spot without winning a Grand Slam title.
The 26-year-old Serb, through to the fourth round in Melbourne for the first time since 2009, is relieved she doesn't have to justify herself.
"I'm not in that situation right now, so I don't have to deal with any of that," said Jankovic, who reached the No. 1 ranking in August 2008 and held it for 18 weeks. "It's kind of nice to be a little bit away from that and just really focus on my tennis, on my game, and don't really have to answer those questions every day from you guys."
Wozniacki has been No. 1 since Oct. 11, 2010, although she could lose the top spot after this tournament to one of three players. She needs to at least reach the quarterfinals to have any chance of holding on.
The Dane reached the U.S. Open final in 2009, losing to Kim Clijsters, but hasn't reached another Grand Slam final since claiming the No. 1 ranking.
"I've proven myself for the last two years. I've finished No. 1 twice in a row," Wozniacki said Friday. "For me, the most important thing is to keep improving."
Jankovic, whose best Grand Slam result was a runner-up finish at the 2008 U.S. Open, hopes the media will go easy on the 21-year-old Wozniacki.
"I think you kind of give her a little hard time sometimes," she said. "I think sometimes you just should let it go.
"She's pretty young. I think she's gonna win those big tournaments in the future sooner or later."
AUSSIE TEEN TOMIC WINS:
Australian teenager Bernard Tomic won a cat-and-mouse battle with Alexandr Dolgopolov, another potential star of men's tennis with a near-identical game.
"Isn't it like a mirror? Now I know how it is playing myself," Tomic said in an on-court interview after a 4-6, 7-6 (0), 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3 win that lasted 3 hours, 49 minutes.
The 19-year-old Australian set up a fourth-round meeting with his childhood hero, Roger Federer, at Melbourne Park on Sunday.
"I've watched his matches since he won that first Wimbledon (in 2003)," Tomic said. "To me, I don't enjoy watching tennis, but when Roger plays on TV, it's a pleasure to watch."
Tomic, Australia's best hope of ending a 36-year wait for a homegrown men's singles winner, is through to the last 16 in Melbourne for the first time.
He needed five sets to beat Fernando Verdasco in the first round, and four to get the better of Sam Querrey.
Tomic has played Federer once, losing in four close sets on grass in a Davis Cup match last year.
"I looked up to him a lot. He was like my idol," he said. "To me, he's the best player to play."
OLDIES BUT GOODIES: For all the talk about the young up-and-comers like Bernard Tomic and Milos Raonic, the older guys were still getting it done at Melbourne Park.
Eight men over the age of 30 advanced to the third round of the singles draw at the Australian Open: Ivo Karlovic (32), Juan Ignacio Chela (32), Michael Llodra (31), Lleyton Hewitt (30), Roger Federer (30), Julien Benneteau (30), Feliciano Lopez (30) and Nicolas Mahut (30).
It's the most men over 30 in the third round of any Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 1978, when 12 men reached that stage.
Three of the veterans played on Friday. Federer eliminated Karlovic 7-6 (6), 7-5, 6-3 in the early afternoon, and Lopez held off John Isner.
In one of the more intriguing matchups pitting the old guard against the young guns on Saturday, Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam champion, was to play against Raonic, a powerful 21-year-old Canadian who has shot up the rankings in the past year.
Hewitt's body has given out on him in recent years _ he's undergone two hip surgeries and a foot operation. But Federer is still picking him to beat Raonic, who had hip surgery himself last year.
"I think it's going to be an open match because Lleyton doesn't give away anything," Federer said in a nod to a player who held the No. 1 ranking before he did. "I've seen that happen so many times that I'll just pick Lleyton because he's playing well and he's playing at home."
Federer is also closing in on an important milestone _ his next match will be his 1,000th on tour.
"How do I feel?" he said. "I feel good. I feel healthy. I don't know if I can play another 1,000, but I feel like it's a lot of tennis."
Only two 30-somethings made it to the third round on the ladies side: Greta Arn (32) and Serena Williams (30). They were to play each other in the third round.
Associated Press Writer Justin Bergman contributed to this report.
(This version CORRECTS Corrects that eight men over 30 in third round; updates to add most men over 30 in Grand Slam since 1978)
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