MELBOURNE, Australia – Two-time finalist Li Na stayed in contention for another Australian Open title match after beating Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2 today to advance to the semifinals at Melbourne Park.
After beating two 16-year-olds in the opening rounds and saving a match point against Lucie Safarova in the third, No. 4 seed Li was relentless in defeating the 28th-seeded Pennetta, who buried her face in her towel during a changeover while trailing 5-0 in the opening set.
After saving the match point, I think I got a lot of confidence, Li said in her on-court, post-match interview. Even more belief in myself.
Li lost her serve just once – while leading 5-0 in the opening set – and finished off the 67-minute match with an easy forehand to the open court that Pennetta could only watch flat-footed from a distance.
Li, who lost to Victoria Azarenka in the 2013 final and to Kim Clijsters in 2011, will next play Eugenie Bouchard of Canada. She defeated Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.
Ivanovic ended top-ranked Serena Williams’ title ambitions this year with a three-set win over the American on Sunday in the fourth round.
Azarenka, who is attempting to win her third consecutive title here, plays her quarterfinal match against Agnieszka Radwanska on Wednesday. Simona Halep will play Dominika Cibulkova, who beat Maria Sharapova in the fourth round, in another quarterfinal on the same day.
Also today, No. 3 David Ferrer played No. 7 Tomas Berdych in the first men’s quarterfinal and Novak Djokovic continued his quest for a fourth consecutive Australian Open title with a quarterfinal match against No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka.
The other half of the men’s draw plays its quarterfinals on Wednesday when top-ranked Rafael Nadal takes on Grigor Dimitrov and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray plays 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer.
Federer defeated Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 on Monday.
Federer is back in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time since last year’s French Open – equaling Jimmy Connors’ Open-era record with his 41st trip to the last eight in a major. He next plays Murray, a three-time Australian Open finalist. A win could set up a semifinal against Nadal, who next plays first-time major quarterfinalist Grigor Dimitrov.
It’s a tough thing to do. I don’t know if it’s been done before, sixth-seeded Federer said of his tough road to the title.