AUSTRALIAN OPEN All-Belgian rematch set
Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne are in the women's singles final.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Kim Clijsters hopes the third time is the charm.
Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne won their semifinal matches in straight sets today at the Australian Open to set up an all-Belgian rematch of the French and U.S. Open finals, both won by Henin-Hardenne.
Clijsters, seeking her first Grand Slam title, also would regain the top spot with a victory.
Defending champion Andre Agassi took on Marat Safin in a late semifinal.
The men's No. 1 ranking will be at stake in Friday's semifinal between second-seeded Roger Federer and No. 3 Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Clijster beats Schnyder
Taking the court just 25 hours after a quarterfinal match in which she reinjured her sprained left ankle, second-seeded Clijsters chased down drop shots and ran sideline to sideline to beat No. 22 Patty Schnyder 6-2, 7-6 (2).
"I knew it was going to be a little sore," said Clijsters, who underwent a fitness test before the match and had the ankle smeared with anti-inflammatory cream and tightly taped. "But doctors have reassured me that I'm not going to make it any worse by playing."
Henin-Hardenne advanced by beating 32nd-seeded Fabiola Zuluaga, the beneficiary of Amelie Mauresmo's withdrawal before their quarterfinal match with a back injury.
Clijsters hurt her ankle at the Hopman Cup and was sidelined for two weeks before the Australian Open. She aggravated the injury in a quarterfinal victory over sixth-seeded Anastasia Myskina on Wednesday.
Like Henin-Hardenne, Clijsters scored her sixth consecutive straight-sets victory, which has helped keep the stress on her ankle to a minimum.
"I'm feeling good," she said. "Whatever the time you can rest, the better, particularly with my foot. I'm just really looking forward to go out there. I wish it was tomorrow in a way."
Both Belgians reached the semifinals at all four majors last season. Neither has made the Australian Open final before.
Clijsters said she hoped to make the "third time lucky" against Henin-Hardenne, her good friend. She said she's not thinking about her losses in her two previous big matches against Henin-Hardenne, blaming them in part on playing doubles at the French and U.S. Opens. She's stuck to just singles this time.
"In those matches, I knew where the problem was laying and I knew that it wasn't psychological," Clijsters said. "I was a little bit exhausted at the end of those two Slams. This year, I think I've become a little bit smarter."
Under closed roof
Both semifinals were played under a closed roof at Rod Laver Arena as light rain fell sporadically throughout the day.
Henin-Hardenne made 25 unforced errors, including 15 in the second set against Zuluaga, the first Colombian woman to reach a grand Slam semifinal.
"It was a good fight, long rallies. I played well on the important points and served well when I had to," she said.
Henin-Hardenne said coming into a major ranked No. 1 was tough to handle in the first week.
"It's been a difficult tournament for me. It was new being the top seed," she said. "But the situation changed in the quarterfinals and I feel better and better. Now I have to improve my level again if I want to win the title."
Ferrero, seeded third, was supplanted atop the ATP Tour rankings by U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick late last season. But Roddick will drop after losing to Safin in the quarterfinals in Australia.