Li Na ousts Sharapova

Posted: January 24, 2013

MELBOURNE, Australia - Li Na used the heat to her advantage and worked No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova around Rod Laver Arena in a 6-2, 6-2 win on Thursday that put her in the Australian Open final for the second time in 3 years.

Sharapova was the heavy favorite after conceding only nine games in her first five matches, a record at the Australian Open since it expanded to a 128-player draw in 1988.

But the semifinal started badly for the 25-year-old Russian, serving double-faults to lose the first two points and conceding a break in the first game.

Li had the backing of the crowd at Rod Laver Arena, where dozens of red and white Chinese flags swirled in a light breeze, and where the temperature topped 93 degree during the first of the semifinals.

Li was the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final when she lost to Kim Clijsters in Melbourne in 2011. She had her breakthrough a few months later when she won the French Open, beating Sharapova in the semifinals along the way.

She will now play the winner of Thursday's later semifinal between top-ranked Victoria Azarenka, the defending champion, and 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens.

The 29th-seeded Stephens upset Serena Williams on Wednesday.

While there were surprises in the composition of the women's last four, the makeup of the men's semifinals was as expected.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic will continue his bid for a third consecutive Australian title against No. 4 David Ferrer and No. 2 Roger Federer will face No. 3 Andy Murray.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|