The comeback continues as Clijsters sets up a thrilling fourth round showdown [AFP]Former US Open champions Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters have set the stage for a New York showdown at Flushing Meadows.
Williams and Clijsters cruised through their respective matches to set up a fourth-round encounter at Flushing Meadows that will have a fresh take on an old rivalry.
Williams dismissed Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2 7-5 while Clijsters conquered fellow Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 6-0 6-2 in third-round matches to renew a tug-of-war not seen since 2005.
"She's obviously a very determined woman and very talented," Williams said of her Belgian rival, who recently rejoined the tour after a two-year hiatus.
"Put those two together and you get great tennis...
"Obviously, it's great to see her back but I want to advance to the next round."
In other matches at the final grand slam of the year the top contenders all advanced, including champion Serena Williams, and Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal on the men's side.
In a mild upset, eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus lost to Italy's Francesca Schiavone, the 26th seed, 4-6 6-2 6-2, in a third-round match.
But the chatter around the National Tennis Centre was on the impending Venus-Clijsters soiree in the round of 16.
The 26-year-old Clijsters is back after giving birth to her first child in early 2008.
It has been four years since the two shared the court, a quarter-final match-up at the US Open when the Belgian won in three sets on her way to the title.
"It's obviously going to be a good game for me," said Clijsters, who is unseeded at this year's event because she returned to the tour less than a month ago.
"It's something I already look forward to. It's these kind of matches that make it very special... it's a big challenge.
"I've got nothing to lose. I'm going to go out there and just give it 200 percent."
The 29-year-old Venus leads the rivalry, that began at the 2001 US Open, 6-4.
Serena stretches to make a point [GALLO/GETTY]Pumped
Both Serena and Murray, hoping to be the first Briton to win the US championships since 1936, chose different tactics to inspire themselves.
Serena screamed, pumped her fist, and jumped up and down in a victory over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, while Murray was stoic after a one-set wobble against Paul Capdeville.
"I got nasty today, but to myself," Serena said after her 6-3 7-5 victory over the Spaniard.
"I was just screaming to myself because I wasn't very happy with my performance."
Second-seeded Murray calmly reversed the momentum after losing the second set to his Chilean opponent.
"I played three very good sets and one poor one. But you're allowed to play a bad set sometimes," the dour Scotsman said after his 6-2 3-6 6-0 6-2 second-round victory.
"I came back well from it. I just felt a little bit lethargic, a little bit low on energy. I don't know why, but managed to pick it up at the end when I needed to."
Nadal, who missed Wimbledon with a knee injury, appeared headed for an easy time against Nicolas Kiefer but ultimately needed three hours to oust the German 6-0 3-6 6-3 6-4.
"When you win the first set easy and your opponent starts to play better, it's difficult because you are not on rhythm," said Nadal, who next plays Spanish compatriot Nicolas Almagro.
The most entertaining match of the day was Taylor Dent's 6-4 5-7 6-7 7-5 7-6 victory over Spain's Ivan Navarro.
After winning the final-set tiebreaker 11-9 and putting an end to the four-hour, 12-minute marathon, the American jogged around the court, slapping high-fives with adoring fans.
"After match point, I was so fired up and the crowd was there, they were so fired up," said Dent.
"I had to show my appreciation to them more than just giving the traditional wave."