Thursday, 23 January 2014

Li Na looming large

Last year's finalist Li Na was first up on Day Nine doing battle in the quarter final with Italy's Flavia Pennetta who had never been this far before at an Aus Open.  With the dumping of Serena Williams, the prospect of back to back finals was bright for the fourth seed, but Li Na knew that to take Flavia lightly would be perilous.

The 25th seed Pennetta served first and it couldn't have been much more of a mixed bag.  Two aces, a double fault, 2 clean winners from Li Na, one to set up a break point, and a backhand which was to good for Pennetta and converted the break for the 4th seed.
After a series of errors from both players on the Li Na serve, Pennetta hit a backhand winner to give her two break points.  Li Na saved both, one with a backhand winner of her own, before another break point was set up by Flavia via another fine backhand.  Li Na capably staved off the trouble by forcing play to the forehand of Pennetta, where the errors came.  2-0 Li Na.

Flavia's forehand continued to cause problems for her as a string of errors were the basis of another loss of serve and the first set was slipping away fast.
Li Na in complete control sealed the next game with an ace to lead 4-0 and immediately went back to savage the Pennetta serve again.
Even from 30-0 Flavia couldn't hold serve as Li Na continued dragging her all over the court, battering her with hard hitting groundstrokes, relentless in her pursuit of punishment.  All too much for Flavia who double faulted to hand the game to Li Na 5-0.
Li Na at 40-15 serving for the set, while everyone else was preparing the second set in readiness for it to start in just a few moments.  However no one had consulted Flavia who belted two backhand winners to draw level at deuce.  Li Na lost concentration, made a mess of two forehands and Flavia had registered a score in the games column.
The Italian game score doubled soon after as Flavia held serve for the first time, but the inevitable had merely been delayed as Li Na did not leave room for mistakes this time serving out the set 6-2.

Serving first in the second, Pennetta made a complete shambles of it.  Unforced errors everywhere, finished off with a double fault, was the nightmare start when already one set down.  A dream beginning however for Li Na, who consolidated the break for loss of just one point.
3-0 in a blink as Flavia was now having trouble off both wings, her backhand often the culprit in this game.
Li Na had not faced a break point in the early stages of the set, and would not face one again for the rest of the match. With two breaks in hand the match was as good as over.
The games were played out and Li Na most impressively won her semi final spot with a 6-2 6-2 triumph.

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