Nick Bollettieri: Clijsters is hot enough to make Zvonareva abandon her cool

The Wimbledon Files

Kim Clijsters eventually overcome her compatriot Justine Henin yesterday to earn this quarter-final against Vera Zvonareva, who won after Jelena Jankovic retired with a leg problem.

Clijsters' major strengths are her powerful, well-placed groundstrokes, hit early and with spin, and her athleticism, which underpins her great movement. Her fragility, traditionally, has been psychological, although that does not appear to be an issue for her at the moment, and it certainly was not yesterday when she came back from a set down to win in three.

As Clijsters herself described it she was trying too hard to go for her shots in that first set and got "overwhelmed" by Henin's power and shot.

"I was out there somewhere, but I'm not quite sure where," she said. "She was definitely overpowering me on every aspect of the match, I think. She was serving extremely well, returning extremely well."

But Clijsters did then find the groove and started hitting the lines and she needs more of the same today from the start: variety allied with aggression.

Zvonareva would not have been expecting such an easy day at the office but Jelena – who lived at the academy for years and has been back training recently – was struggling with her movement from the start. And as we know, Jelena is not great mentally when she falls behind.

Zvonareva has also been to the academy to use our facilities and she is very dangerous. There is a significant proviso to that statement, however; she's dangerous if she remains calm. Her biggest weakness is between the ears and if she loses her cool then she can fall to pieces.

Technically, her game is fairly simple. She bangs the heck out of the ball, and she takes it early. Her movement is wonderful, graceful. She covers the court like a gazelle. If she stays in this match mentally then she can be a threat.

Clijsters absolutely does not want to get involved in a match of bang-bang, playing Zvonareva's game, because the Russian can do that very competently. What Kim needs to do is mix it up again like she did yesterday.

It goes without saying that this is a big occasion for Clijsters in her comeback campaign. She has not played at Wimbledon since 2006 and now here she is, one victory away from a semi-final, which would equal her best-ever year at SW19.

Her ranking is No 8 in the world, which is as high as it's been since her return to the game last year, and straight-sets wins in her three matches before Henin showed she's found her touch on the surface.

This comes down to the Russian's one-dimensional but consistently strong game, against the variety and experience of Clijsters, with the key factor a psychological one.

Today's big match: Kim Clijsters v Vera Zvonareva

HOW THEY MATCH UP

Belgian.........  Nationality......... Russian

27.........  Age......... 25

Bree, Belgium.........  Residence......... Moscow

1997.........  Turned pro......... 2000

Right-handed.........  Plays......... Right-handed

5ft 9in.........  Height......... 5ft 8in

No 8.........  World ranking......... No 21

37.........  Career titles......... 10

$17.2m.........  Career prize-money......... $7m

W26 L7.........  Wimbledon record......... W15 L7

SF (twice).........  Wimbledon best.........  QF (2010)

5-0.........  Head-to-head......... 

1-8.........  Odds......... 7-1

Bollettieri's prediction: Clijsters edges it

Sharapova lost – but this performance showed her star is in the ascendant

Serena Williams had the edge over Maria Sharapova yesterday, as I thought she might, but this was not a walkover for the American champion and the difference really was in that first-set tiebreak. It swung both ways and arguably Maria could have sealed it. But she looked just a little tight and her serve broke down a bit at just the wrong time and Serena took advantage, as good champions do.

They pounce on weakness and they exploit them. That was the match for me, and once Maria had lost that first set, it was always going to be a struggle for her.

But. There's a positive but. Watch out for Sharapova as we move on into the summer because she's getting closer and closer. She's not quite ready to be battling toe to toe with the biggest guns in the Slams, but if she stays healthy and gains confidence, I think we'll see her challenging at the US Open.

As for Serena, she served very well, especially in that first set when she hit 13 aces at speeds of up to 125mph. She moved well and strongly, and perhaps most importantly of all she stayed strong in her mind in a match against someone to whom she'd lost in their only other meeting on grass – the 2004 final.



Federer not tested but he won't care Roger Federer eased into the quarter-finals by beating Jürgen Melzer but it wasn't really the kind of match where his class was needed because Melzer did not have a great day. Federer won playing well within capacity. Only a few times did we see that phenomenal change of pace from graceful, easy shot-maker to thunderous killer of points. It's been a strange tournament for the No 1 seed so far, and he'll face tougher tests ahead.

Lleyton Hewitt won't face any more tests this fortnight after falling to Novak Djokovic, and that wasn't what I expected. But Djokovic was pumped up and played very well.

Staying with the men, I was also impressed, again, with Andy Murray. He won as I expected, in straight sets, having got the early read he needed on Sam Querrey's serve, then pushed home the advantaged against the bigger, tiring man.



Beware the outsiders

The one anomalous quarter-final today is Petra Kvitova against Kaia Kanepi because one of those two is going to be in the semi-finals and on their rankings neither should have got beyond the second round. Kvitova is a big, strong Czech, age 20, 6ft tall and built solidly. She's a real powerhouse and a leftie to boot. Kanepi is older, but also strong. I wouldn't be surprised if Kvitova ends up meeting Serena Williams in the semis.

Dear Nick...

With England, the USA and Italy all out of the World Cup, we'll leave my World Cup of tennis behind! Instead, I invite your questions, either about my life in tennis or about your own game. Today's question is from Fiona Roberts, who had seen me speak at a conference and emailed to say: "You talk with great humour about having had eight wives, but in seriousness, is life as a top-level player, or indeed coach, incompatible with a settled personal life?"

Well Fiona, the simple answer is yes, it's incompatible, and at the very least, difficult. I have indeed been married eight times, and I'm blissfully happy with my wife Cindi, and our son, Gio. But there was one marriage when I was coaching Andre Agassi where my wife said 'Andre or me' and I replied 'I'll just pack and be gone'.

Several other of my marriages went west with the demands of the morning-to-night coaching needed to give proper attention to students; when Monica Seles was young, she'd stay out til nightfall hitting just one shot until it was right.

Being away for long periods is also damaging. For players it's harder to maintain relationships, definitely, and having a family on the road is tough.

Email your questions to n.bollettieri@independent.co.uk

Holy mackerel!

The heat at Wimbledon is staggering, literally. It was pushing 30 at 7pm yesterday! Look at how it's taking a physical toll on players. Novak Djokovic won but not before breathing problems. Definition of irony: rain at every single Wimbledon since 1995 (and most before), then a £100m roof is built, there's a few drops last year and none in 2010 at all quite possibly.

Win a Week at my Academy

Want a week's tennis holiday at my academy in Florida? Included in the prize is five days' top-class tuition. The prize can be for an adult wanting to shape up your game, or for a child who wants to follow in the footsteps of Agassi, Seles or Sharapova.

All you have to do is email to tell me who will win today's big match. I want a specific score line, and as a tie-breaker, a one-sentence summary of the manner in which your pick will win. All winners go into a hat, with one overall winner picked from there. Email: n.bollettieri@independent.co.uk

Yesterday's winner was Rachel O'Reilly.

If the prize is for a child, parent(s) or guardian(s) must accompany at your own expense. The winner arranges the travel.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Nadine Gordimer died peacefully at home yesterday
people
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor