August 4, 2015

Li Na Ousts Sharapova to Advance to Second Australian Open Final


10062012 China Open Li Na in press 2

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 24, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Li Na won through to her second Australian Open final after impressively defeating Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 33 minutes.


“Beginning of the match I was nervous, ” Li Na said. “I was happy I come back to semis again, but for some reason I really want to win the match. I don’t know what happened today. Just come to the court, feeling like, Okay, just do it,”


She played focused and used all her power to wipe Sharapova off the court. Li produced an uncharacteristically low number of unforced errors at just 18 and created 21 winners in the match.


The 2008 champion got off to a terrible start by serving down two consecutive double faults. She was put under pressure from Li and netted a forehand on break point to give the Chinese the lead 1-0.


Li continued to keep the pressure on the Russian, speeding up the balls and forcing Sharapova to make the errors. She lead at one stage in the set by two breaks before Sharapova managed to get one back to trail Li 2-4. Li then put her foot down again and reclaimed the break to serve out the set 6-2 with a superb forehand winner.


Sharapova had dropped just nine games on her way to the semifinal clash and was suddenly down a set. She had yet to experience a challenge in any of her five matches and did not play any matches coming into the open after withdrawing from Brisbane. Li on the other hand was more prepared for the hot conditions at Melbourne Park on Thursday on the back of a lot of match play coming into the Open. She won in Shenzhen for the first week of the 2013 season and played to the semifinals during a Sydney heatwave.


The second set began on serve for the first four games before Li pulled ahead to 3-2 with a break. She then secured another break in the seventh game and closed out the match 6-2 6-2 to book her spot in the final of the Australian Open for the second time in her career.


Li made the Australian Open final in 2011 and lost to Kim Clijsters in three sets. She looks back on that experience and says she is better prepared the second time around.


“I mean, 2011, first time to the Grand Slam final, I was a little bit shocked because I didn’t know what I should do. Also no one tell me what I should do on the court. But this time I got more experience, so I think should be better.”


“I really hungry about title, yeah. It’s really – how you say – first time I was feeling I really near or close to the title. So, yeah, I think this time should be, I don’t know, maybe different story or maybe same story. But I will try.”


Li Na said she has a different mindset on the court now. She no longer worries as much as she used to.


“I was working so hard in winter training. I think now is everything just back to me. So I come to the court, take the racquet, enjoy the tennis, yeah.”


Li Na will meet defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the final on Saturday. Azarenka leads their head-to-head record 5-4 and has beaten Li in their last four encounters. Li has won their two encounters at Grand Slam level in straight sets at the 2011 Australian Open and the 2011 French Open which she went on to win.


Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.


Sharapova Continues Stunning Form to Reach Semifinals in Melbourne



By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 22, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Maria Sharapova stormed into the semifinals of the Australian Open after crushing fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2 in 66 minutes.


Sharapova didn’t manage any bageled sets in the match but was still very impressive and completely dominated her opponent. She has dropped just 9 games for the duration of the tournament.


“I thought today was going to be a really good test. She’s beaten quality players over the course of last week, and I know that she’s capable of playing really good, you know, with deep hitting. Also a lefty, which is a bit tricky. So, yeah, I thought I handled that pretty good and was able to keep my focus all the way through the match.”


Sharapova hit 22 winners and won 83% of her first serves in play on her way to the quick victory.


She will meet Li Na in the semifinals and leads their head-to-head 8-4.


“Yeah, I mean, I’ve beaten her the last few times that we’ve played, but they’ve always been really good matches, really tough matches. I certainly expect it in the next one.”


“She’s had a great start to the year and playing really well. She was, you know, the most-improved player towards the end of last year as well, so that will be hopefully a high-quality semi.”


Sharapova has yet to be troubled during the tournament and was asked if it worries her knowing she hasn’t had to surpass any big challenges going into the semifinal.


“Well, going into the match, my goal is not really to be tested. I don’t know how else to put it. If I do come into a situation where I feel like I have to pull through or I’m not playing my best tennis or she’s up and I have to find a way to win, then that’s what you have on that given day.”


“Do I want to be in that position? Absolutely not.”


Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.



Sharapova Dishes Out More Bagels in Second Round of Australian Open


(January 16, 2013) Maria Sharapova has now won 24 straight games at the Australian Open. The Russian served up another double-bagel 6-0, 6-0, this time to Misaki Doi in 47 minutes, yielding a mere 15 points to the Japanese playe in second round play on Wednesday in Melbourne. Sharapova also won her first round encounter against Russian countrywoman Olga Puchkova by the same score.

No. 2-ranked Sharapova has been dominating in her play.

“I’ve been playing really aggressively and doing the right things,” Sharapova said. “It’s not easy to be up so much because you can have a few let-downs. You just have to try to concentrate.”

“My focus is always on the next point and to try to win as many of them as possible.  When you have your chances and opportunities, little doors that open up, you try to take them.

“Without looking at the scoreboard, I don’t want anyone to know what score it is on the scoreboard just by looking at my face or my attitude.  I try to play every single point like I really need to win it.”

Venus Williams won her second match against Alize Cornet and will play Sharapova next.

“There are certainly no secrets coming into that matchup,” said Sharapova.

“We’ve played against each other many times.  You know, despite the fact that she might not be seeded high or didn’t play for a little bit, she’s still a very experienced player and a tremendous athlete.

“Going out there, there won’t be too many secrets.  I hope for it to be a great match.”

The last woman to win consecutive 6-0, 6-0 matches at a major was Wendy Turnbull at the 1985 at the Australian Open.