Belgium ecstatic as Wickmayer joins Clijsters in quarters

Mon Sep 7, 2009 6:40pm EDT
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By Simon Cambers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Justine Henin retired in 2008, Belgian tennis was in a state of shock.

A year after Kim Clijsters called it a day, a nation that had two players in the world's top four was suddenly left with nothing, reduced to the ranks of also-rans.

The return last month of Clijsters after the birth of her first child lifted Belgian spirits.

And just like buses, another one has come along, with Yanina Wickmayer joining 2005 winner Clijsters in the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open.

Though her style is nothing like the former world number one, the 19-year-old Wickmayer has long been held up as the next Henin.

On Monday, the world number 50 edged out Czech Petra Kvitova 4-6 6-4 7-5 to reach the last eight at Flushing Meadows, a possibility she had dared not even dream about before the tournament began.

"I think if you've never played a quarter-final, if your furthest in a grand slam is second round, I don't think you can expect anything," she said.

"I was feeling well the last few weeks. I was playing well. I was winning a lot of matches, playing good matches against the top players, so I was feeling pretty confident.   Continued...