China's Li Na attends a press conference after a women's singles quarterfinal match with Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Jan. 22, 2013. Li Na won the match 2-0 and entered the semifinals. (Xinhua/Chen Xiaowei)
By Sportswriter Huang Jie
MELBOURNE, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Former French Open champion Li Na knocked out fourth-seeded Polish Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets to reach her third Australian Open semifinals here on Tuesday.
The Chinese top player's 7-5, 6-3 victory will set her up with a semifinal meeting against the winner between last year runner-up Maria Sharapova and her fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, whose match will be played later Tuesday.
"Radwanska is a tough player," said Li. "I was feeling (like playing)against a wall today. She can hit everywhere, but without a mistake.
"I was feeling very tough. I have to focus on every shot. Not every point, every shot. If I hit like slow or short, she'll attack."
Li won an unpredictable first set lasting 66 minutes. In a match featuring 10 breaks of serve, six of which by the No. 4 seed Chinese, Li won five games in a row after trailing 0-2 in the second set. Serving for the match, Li saved two break points before winning the one-hour-42-minute quarterfinal.
"Li is a very consistent player," said Radwandska. "She's always playing on the same level. She's not up and down like other girls. She's always playing solid tennis."
"I think I wasn't fast enough today. Especially from the beginning of the match, I was really running a lot. It cost me too much power in the beginning of the match," the Polish added.
Before winning five games in a row, Li let Radwanska to score eight straight points to take a 2-0 lead to start the second set.
"In the beginning of the set, I was feeling totally dying. I was feeling my legs couldn't move," said Li. "But after two games, I was getting better and better."
Li improved her record against Radwanska to 6-4 and revenged for her loss to the Polish in Sydney two weeks ago.
"I think Li played better than in Sydney. She was very solid from the beginning of the match and was playing very good tennis," said Radwanska. "She didn't let me do anything in some games. Very deep balls all the time and good serve. She was really playing good tennis today."
Li thought the schedule helped her. "This time I'm fit. I was a little bit tired of all the travelling last time. You can play one day and have another day off in the Grand Slam. So I was feeling much much better," said Li.
Li ended the Polish's 13-match winning streak in the year to reach her third semifinal at the Melbourne Park. She made into the last four here in 2010 and 2011. Li lost to Kim Clijsters in 2011 final just before she took her first and only Grand Slam title at Roland Garros in 2011.
Li's possible opponent in the semifinals could be second seed Sharapova, who lost only five games in the previous four rounds.
"At least now I'm in the semis and she had to play. Now I can start to enjoy my day and she has to fight," said Li. "And the match will be on Thursday. So I still have time to recover."
Sharapova led 8-4 in their 12 meetings and won all three matches they played in 2012. But Li thought it was just history.
"Last year already passed. Until now we didn't meet for this year," said Li. "Sharapova is an aggressive player on the court. She's tough and fighting a lot. It should be a tough match and we can see on Thursday."