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Maria Sharapova Ankle Injury

January 23, 2012 by staff 

Maria Sharapova Ankle Injury, The ladies have been quiet through the first week of this Australian Open, content for the most part to mow down their opposition as local heroes Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt grabbed all the headlines.

That changed Sunday, when Li Na of China and Kim Clijsters of Belgium met on Rod Laver Arena in a round-of-16 clash that was a rematch of last year’s championship final.

The defending champion Clijsters had played little in 2011 because of injury, causing her ranking to fall to No. 14. The result was a meeting that happened earlier in the tournament than it could have or should have, and resulted in a dramatic 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4 victory for Clijsters that put her into the quarter-finals against No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki.

The tennis was impressive at times. The drama – as it can sometimes be on the women’s side – was world-class.

Clijsters twisted her ankle in the first set, at 3-3, 30-all – a recurring theme before and through this Australian Open.

Former champion and No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova has barely played as she continues to heal an ankle sprain suffered last September, Serena Williams rolled her ankle during a warm-up tournament, and Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain, Li’s third-round opponent, was forced to retire after she rolled her ankle.

Clijsters took some Advil and, in what she says is her final Australian Open, decided to try to carry on.

“(Retiring) definitely crossed my mind at some point, but I knew if I could just try to kind of let the medication sink in or, you know, if I could get through the first 20 minutes, half-hour, I think the pain would go away a little bit and then maybe with the adrenalin I could just fly through it,” Clijsters said. “I’m happy that I didn’t give up.”

Her movement visibly restricted, Clijsters turned to a more aggressive tactical plan. Still, Li led 6-2 in the second set tiebreak, with four match points to work with. That should be enough for anyone. But improbably, Li lost them all, the last one on a panic shot selection by Clijsters at 6-5 – a “let’s-get-this-over-with” drop-shot attempt that somehow came good.

“You know, I’m not saying that forehand drop shot was a good choice, but, you know, you make decisions. Luckily, that one turned out OK,” Clijsters said.

Shattered at the missed opportunity, Li disappeared. Coach and husband Jiang Shan was urging her on from the stands, causing his wife to be called for a coaching violation.

Despite Li’s last-minute attempt to crawl her way back, Clijsters somehow – she’s not sure how – managed to win.

Yes, she was nervous, but so was her opponent.

“That’s just normal. I’m not special,” Li said, uncharacteristically unable to find a quip or a joke to lighten her rather sombre mood.

Clijsters will meet Wozniacki, who came into the tournament with questions surrounding her left wrist, but who had done a good job getting to her meeting with the former No. 1, Jelena Jankovic.

The intrigue there was that Jankovic’s longtime coach Ricardo Sanchez is now in the Wozniacki camp, even if it has seemed at times that he’s little more than a highly qualified ball retriever as Wozniacki’s father Piotr still calls the shots on the practice court.

Jankovic had won the first four matches of their rivalry, Wozniacki the last three. But they have much in common, including the dubious distinction of holding the No. 1 ranking without the benefit of having won a Grand Slam tournament.

Earlier in the week, Jankovic had defended Wozniacki, saying people really needed to cut her a little slack. The 21-year-old Dane failed to return the courtesy early in her 6-0, 7-5 victory. She weathered a last-ditch effort by Jankovic, who was down 4-1 in the second set.

The two other quarterfinalists in the top of the half draw also are set, as No. 3 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and No. 8 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland made short work of their opponents Sunday.

Azarenka surrendered only four games to unseeded lefty Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic; Radwanska was even more clinical, dispatching No. 22 seed Julia Goerges of Germany 6-1, 6-1.

But the heavyweights in the women’s event are in the bottom half, which is in action Monday: Serena Williams, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and the surprising Sharapova.

Sharapova had surrendered only five games through her first three rounds as she meets No. 14 seed Sabine Lisicki on Monday night. Williams plays Russian lefty Ekaterina Makarova in the afternoon.

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