MELBOURNE, Australia - U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters beat Alize Cornet 7-6 (3), 6-3 of France, getting closer to win her second Grand Slam in a row.
Cornet, trying to celebrate her 21st birthday, provided a tougher challenge for Clijsters, who had only conceded four games in her first two rounds. The French player was presented with a birthday bouquet of flowers after the match, a small consolation for losing to one of the tournament favorites.
"It was tough. She's a tricky player," Clijsters said. "During the match I felt like I was playing two different persons. I had to constantly move my feet, and work harder."
Cornet had trouble enough playing one.
Second-seeded Vera Zvonareva kept alive her bid for a third consecutive Grand Slam final with a 6-3, 7-6 (9) win over Lucie Safarova.
Zvonareva, who lost the U.S. Open final to Clijsters, served for the match twice against Safarova but was extended to the tiebreaker. Safarova led 4-2 and 5-3 in the tiebreaker before Zvonareva finally sealed it on her fourth match point.
Zvonareva has a chance to move into the No. 1 ranking her by winning the title. Her priority now is getting past a fourth-round match against Iveta Benesova, who beat No. 16 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 1-6, 7-5.
No. 12 Agnieszka Radwanska beat Simona Halep 6-1, 6-2 and will next play China's Peng Shuai, who had a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Japan's Ayumi Morita. Peng, who saved seven break points in the seventh game of the deciding set, will make her first appearance in the fourth round of a Grand Slam.
No. 10 Shahar Peer was ousted, losing 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 to No. 22 Flavia Pennetta.
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