Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters retired from her semifinal match against Daniela Hantuchova at the Brisbane International on Friday one game after taking a medical time out for a left hip injury.
Clijsters won the opening set 7-6 (4), but surrendered a break at the start of the second set and needed treatment after the third game. She came back on court for one game before walking to the net and telling Hantuchova she couldn’t continue after falling behind 3-1.
Hantuchova has had a truncated run into Saturday’s final, getting a walkover in the quarterfinals when 13-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams withdrew from the tournament after injuring her left ankle while winning a second-round match.
Hantuchova will play either Francesca Schiavone of Italy or Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.
Clijsters struggled with injuries last season and only played eight tournaments, including her win at the Australian Open.
The Brisbane International was her first since an abdominal injury ended her season in September and the latest injury casts doubt on her ability to defend her title at the first major of 2012. The Australian Open starts on Jan. 16 in Melbourne.
In the men’s quarterfinals, top-seeded Andy Murray shifted up a gear to beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-2, 6-2.
Murray dropped the opening sets in his first two rounds as he overcame soreness and stiffness from the offseason, but had no serious difficulty dispatching doubles partner Baghdatis in little more than an hour.
Murray has lost the last two Australian Open finals and recently hired Ivan Lendl to help him break his Grand Slam title drought. The Scot will next play eighth-seeded Bernard Tomic.
The Australian teenager, a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon last year, converted the only breakpoint chance of the match to beat Uzbekistan’s Dennis Istomin 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Murray saved both break points he faced against Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open runner-up, and converted all four of his own.
After a difficult service game to hold in the fourth game of the second set, Murray broke in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead.
He earned triple breakpoint two games later after a scrambling rally that included a shot between his legs that caught Baghdatis off guard. Murray secured a 5-2 lead on the next point when he successfully challenged a baseline call.
”I played very well today … moved very well from the start, which wasn’t the case in the last two matches, so really, really happy,” Murray said. ”The aches and pains I had from the first two matches have gone, so it’s good.”
Murray has lost three major finals, and is desperate to end a drought for British men in Grand Slam singles that dates to 1936. Lendl, an eight-time Grand Slam titlist, arrived in Australia from the United States on Friday and was due to meet with Murray in Brisbane on Saturday to start fine-tuning for the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 16 in Melbourne.
”The Australian Open has always been the tournament that I’ve done my best at since I was young,” said Murray, who has overcome the groin strain that curtailed the end of his 2011 season. ”So I look forward to going back there and hopefully go one better than last year.”
The No. 42-ranked Tomic has played Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, so has a good idea of what to expect from No. 4-ranked Murray in the semifinals.
”Tomorrow will be a test for me to see where I am,” he said. ”I am ready. I know I can take sets off these guys. In a best-of-three match like this . . . maybe I can pull off a win.”