MONTREAL (Reuters) - Kim Clijsters raced into the quarter-finals of the Montreal Cup with a ruthless 6-2 6-1 demolition of Kaia Kanepi on Thursday, sending a menacing message to anyone eyeing the Belgian’s U.S. Open crown.
Clijsters, who was back on center court about 15 hours after a three-set win over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, was not bothered by the quick turnaround and needed just 55 minutes to see off the 34th ranked Estonian.
Arriving in Montreal fresh off a victory at the Cincinnati Open, Clijsters is unbeaten on North American hardcourts this summer with seven straight wins as she prepares to defend her U.S. Open title in Flushing Meadows.
Clijsters has been nearly unbeatable on hardcourts this season posting a record of 21-2 that includes her current 13 match-winning streak.
“It’s always nice to win a tournament and gradually feel your level improve,” Clijsters told reporters. “When you’re down and able to fight back and win matches like last night it’s something that is extremely important.”
The fifth-seeded Belgian charged out of the blocks in both sets breaking Kanepi at the first opportunity to take 3-0 leads and never allowed the Estonian a chance to get into the match.
“Yesterday I was playing an opponent who couldn’t miss a shot and then today Kanepi was missing a lot,” said Clijsters, a winner on the Canadian hardcourts in 2005 before going onto Flushing Meadows to claim her first U.S. Open title. “I really felt like I had opportunities once I was in a rally with her.”
China’s Zheng Jie delivered the shock of the day ending Elena Dementieva’s title defense with a gritty 7-6 6-4 win over the fourth-seeded Russian.
In a rematch of the San Diego final two weeks ago, Svetlana Kuznetsova, the first Russian woman to win the U.S. Open when she triumphed in 2004, looked to be hitting her stride at the right time battling past seventh-seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-4 1-6 6-3.
Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva also continued to find her footing on the hardcourts, the Russian eighth seed breezing into the last eight with a 6-3 6-3 win over Hungary’s Agnes Szavay.
Tenth-seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus advanced with 6-3 6-3 win over ninth seed Li Na of China, while France’s Marion Bartoli stormed into her third hardcourt quarter-final in four weeks with a 6-0 6-1 thrashing of Czech Iveta Benesova.
Editing by Frank Pingue