MONTREAL — Kim Clijsters keeps on winning.
The former world No. 1 from Bree, Belgium, drummed out Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-2, 6-1 on Thursday to advance to the quarter-finals of the US$2-million Rogers Cup and extend her winning run to seven matches.
Clijsters is coming off a victory last week in Cincinnati in which she came back to beat Maria Sharapova in a three-set final.
She followed that with a three-set win over surprising tough American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in her opening Rogers Cup match on Wednesday night before a relatively easy win over Kanepi.
“(Wednesday) I was playing an opponent who could not miss a shot, while today Kanepi was missing a lot, especially since her strengths are usually her serve and her backhand,” said 27-year-old Clijsters. “I really felt that I had opportunities once I was in a rally with her, and she was either going to make a mistake or I could really try to make her move.
“It’s always nice to win a tournament and gradually feel your level improve and also to have a matches like (Mattek-Sands) and in Cincinnati — to be behind and fight back and win.”
In today’s quarter-finals, Clijsters will face eighth-seeded Vera Zvonareva, who downed Agnes Szavay of Hungary 6-3, 6-3.
The weather turned cool for the evening session after a brief rain delay, but it didn’t stop second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki from defeating 15th-seeded Flavia Pennetta 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 for her fourth win in as many meetings with the Italian.
Wozniacki next plays French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, who beat 2008 Rogers Cup champ Dinara Safina 6-4, 6-3.
The upset of the day came from China’s Zheng Jie, who ousted defending Rogers Cup champion and fourth seed Elena Dementieva 7-6 (3) 6-4.
“It is tough,” said Dementieva. “I really like to play in Canada and this is very disappointing to lose in the third round.”
Zheng will play 11th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, the winner of a see-saw 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 decision over seventh-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.
Another quarter-final will have 10th-seeded Victoria Azarenka, a 6-3, 6-2 victor over China’s Li Na, against 17th-seeded Marion Bartoli of France, who wiped out Czech qualifier Iveta Benesova 6-0, 6-1.
Clijsters beat Zvonareva the first five times they met, but the Russian turned it around in their last meeting — a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon this year.
“She’s a very steady, consistent player — a good backhand, a solid forehand,” Clijsters said of Zvonareva, who lost the Wimbledon final to Serena Williams. “She also likes a faster pace, so it will be tough.”
“We always had tough matches, a lot of three-setters or very tough ones,” said Zvonareva. “I never managed to beat her and finally at Wimbledon, I was able to play very consistently and managed to beat her.
“I always believe I could beat anyone on the other side of the net.”
Kuznetsova was in tough against Radwanska. After being thrashed 6-1 in the second, the two-time grand slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova took a short break in the players’ dressing room and then came back and won.
What did she do during the brief break?
”I take a vodka shot, no?” Kuznetsova said with a laugh. ”No, nothing like that.
”I just go to the locker-room, change all my clothes, eat a banana, and I go back. It’s very simple. It was 6-1, but almost every game was deuce, so it was pretty hard. I took a break and it worked.”
It has been a difficult year for Kuznetsova, who was the first Russian woman to win the U.S. Open in 2004 and added a French Open title to her resume in 2009.
Back at Roland Garros as defending champion in May, Kuznetsova was beaten in the third round and the massive loss of points dropped her ranking out of the top 10 to 19th in the world. Then she went down in the second round at Wimbledon, among other dubious results in 2010.
But when she crossed to North America for the hardcourt season, things seemed to turn around. It was capped by a tournament win in San Diego two weeks ago, when she beat Radwanska in the final.
”I’m not used to having (played) so few matches,” said Kuznetsova. ”It’s hard because the other players had so many matches from the start of the season.
”It’s almost the end and I’m just warming up. Now I’m just starting to get into shape, but anyway, better late than never.”
Her promising form may also bode well for the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 31 in New York. As well as her victory, she also was reached the final in 2007, losing to her nemesis Justine Henin, who isn’t at the Rogers Cup. In her career, Kuznetsova is 2-16 against Henin.
”I love to play in the U.S. Open,” she said. ”It’s good when you get there and you know that at least you have a game and you know what you’re doing on the court. I’m looking forward to it.”