(January 21, 2014) World No. 4 Li Na has moved into her fourth Australian Open semifinal in the last five years by crushing Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2 on Tuesday in Melbourne.
After dismissing the two youngest competitors in the opening rounds of Melbourne, Li escaped the third round by saving a match point against Lucie Safarova.
“After saving the match point, I think I got a lot of confidence,” Li said in her on-court interview after the 67-minute match. “Even more belief in myself.”
It was a match between a pair of “thirty-somethings” and Pennetta commented on what she thinks keeps them going.
“I think we still working in a good way,” she said. “We try to have a good team with us. They can help us in every moment.
“Is good to see older player, no, in the court and fighting. Today I think she was perfect in everything. I mean, I didn’t have a lot of chance at all.”
Li responded to a question about her dominance throughout the match: “I think I prepare for at least like one and a half day to prepare for this match. I know she was a tough opponent because I was play her four time. Every time was like tough, you know.
“I don’t know what happen today. Maybe I just play so well. And, yeah, or maybe I try to prepare for the match before I come to the court.”
Li jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first set, but the 28th seeded Pennetta saved herself from being shut out of the set by taking the next two games in the 35 minute set.
Li jumped out to 4-0 lead in the second set and a succession of forehand errors gave the Italian her first game of the second set on a break of serve.
Two-time Australian Open finalist Li will play the winner of the quarterfinal between Ana Ivanovic and Eugenie Bouchard. Li lost to Victoria Azarenka in the 2013 final and to Kim Clijsters in 2011.
The 31-year-old is now 9-0 for 2014. She defended the title in Shenzhen to begin the year.