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Li back in semis after beating Petkovic

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Originally published on: 25/01/11 01:42

Li Na reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the second consecutive year after defeating Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-4 on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old, who became the first Chinese woman to crack the top 10 after her career-best Grand Slam run in Melbourne last year, continued to look at home on Australian soil as she took out the German in an hour and 20 minutes.

It was Petkovic who got off to the better start though, breaking immediately in the first game of the match, before holding for a 2-0 lead. But the German – who overcame Jill Craybas, Anne Keothavong, Venus Williams (Ret) and former world No.1 Maria Sharapova to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final – failed to build on her advantage from there on.

Breaking straight back, Li won six games on the bounce to take the first set when the surprisingly tentative Petkovic limply netted an off-balance forehand while serving at 2-5 down to hand over the opener in 35 minutes.

The second set began in a mirror image to the first. Again Petkovic forced an immediate break and held serve for a 2-0 lead, and then again she surrendered it, as Li won three games on the bounce to move ahead at 3-2. This time, the German stopped the rot, but it took several deuces for her to finally hold serve in the sixth game.

Proceedings remained on serve until the 10th game, when Petkovic skewed a backhand into the tramlines to hand over two match points, to which Li converted on the first after another Petkovic error.

Li, who defeated Kim Clijsters to win the Sydney Medibank International in the build up to the Melbourne tournament, faces a semi-final clash with the winner of today’s later quarter-final between Caroline Wozniacki and Francesca Schiavone. If it is the world No.1 who prevails in that match, Li has every reason to be confident of a place in the final – she beat the world No.1 in the fourth round en route to her semi-final run in Melbourne last year.

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