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Clijsters predicts big future for China's Li

Written by: Staff

LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) Kim Clijsters has tipped China's Li Na as a future grand slam champion after beating her 6-4 7-5 in their Wimbledon quarter-final today.

The world number two was given a rocky ride by the Chinese number one, losing five straight games in the second set before scrambling through to a meeting with Justine Henin-Hardenne.

The 24-year-old Li has already raised the bar for Chinese women, winning a WTA title in 2004 and becoming the first woman from her country to get inside the world's top 30.

Clijsters feels she has the game to go even further.

''Overall her game is very good,'' said US Open champion Clijsters. ''Her backhand sets up a lot of points for her and then with her forehand, she finishes it off.

''She moves really well, has a good serve. I had to play really good tennis and aggressive tennis to beat her.

''If she has more experience and gets to play more of these kind of big matches it's not going to take her long to one of these days make a breakthrough in the grand slams.

''She has top 10 potential.'' Clijsters had spent just three and a half hours on court to reach the quarter-finals, dropping just 17 games, so she was happy to be given a serious examination before renewing her rivalry with fellow Belgian Henin-Hardenne.

''I definitely felt like I had to run a lot more today,'' said the 23-year-old who could return to world number one if she wins her first Wimbledon singles title this week.

''Li made me move a lot with aggressive tennis. That's something that will be important in my next match because Justine hits even harder than Li.'' Clijsters has never been to the final at Wimbledon, losing her only previous semi-final appearance to Venus Williams in 2003.

Reuters SHB RN2345

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