Sport – Li Na stuns Venus to make Open semi-finals
MELBOURNE: China’s Li Na created a massive boilover when she came from a set down to beat Venus Williams 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 in an error-strewn Day in Pics: January 26
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match to reach the Australian Open semi-finals on Wedenesday.
Li will now face either defending champion Serena Williams or Belarusian seventh seed Victoria Azarenka for a place in the final after seeing off the sixth seeded Williams in two hours, 45 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
“It’s the best day of my whole life,” an exuberant Li, who joins countrywomam Zheng Jie in the final four, said immediately afterwards.
“It’s good for both players and it’s good for Chinese tennis.”
However, neither Serena nor Azarenka would be overly concerned after watching Li and Williams make 110 unforced errors between them in a poor quality match.
Li, the 16th seed, started nervously and seemed overwhelmed by the occasion as she wilted badly in the first set against the power of the American.
She was broken in her first two service games and although she managed to get one back, Williams broke once more at 5-2 to take the first set in only 30 minutes.
The start of the second set followed a similar pattern as Li was broken in the first game and Williams appeared to be cruising to victory.
But at 2-4 down Li suddenly became more relaxed and began to play with far greater freedom, her serve picking up and her groundstrokes finding their range.
Williams tightened up as her forehand went to pieces and she was broken twice, the second time when serving for the match at 5-4.
The Chinese player pounced in the tiebreak to level the match as a nervous Williams came up with a host of unforced errors.
The American got back on track as she held her serve to start the third set and then broke Li, but that triggered a run of six service breaks in a row as neither player was able to assert their dominance.
At 3-4 down Li held off one break point to at last hold to get the set back on serve and Williams cracked, losing her serve and giving Li her chance to serve for the match.
But she wasn’t able to do it as Williams broke to love, then promptly lost her own serve to love to give Li a second chance.
Li made no mistakes this time, although she blew two match points before finally clinching a famous victory.
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