Monday, 21 January 2013

Li Na d. Agnieszka Radwanska (Australian Open 2013 Quarter-Final)

It was a much hyped match, the two met for the 2nd time this year, with Radwanska coming out on top in the first match. Radwanska entered the match as the favourite, since she had not lost a set in her prior 13 matches, while Li Na's only loss in her last 13 matches was at the hands of Radwanska.

There was a lot at stake while entering the match, for Li Na, a chance to put her dis-appointing 4th round loss at the hands of Kim Clijsters behind her and for Radwanska a chance to make it to her first Australian Open semi-final.

If it was Radwanska's unbeaten streak in 2013 that was online, it was Li Na's unbeaten record in the Australian Open quarter-finals that was on-line, and it all ended with Li Na putting ending Radwanska's 13 match season opening winning streak, while making her record in Australian Open quarter-finals 3-0.
Li defeated Radwanska 7-5 6-3 to move to her 3rd Australian Open semi-final in the last 4 years.

The match started slowly. It was like bang a winner from Li, and bang a forehand or bank-hand long by Li. Again a winner followed by an error. Radwanska drew the first blood when she broke Li to go up 2-1 in the first set, but could not consolidate as Li broke right back. This started a sequence of 4 breaks of serve which ended when Li held her serve via long return from Radwanska, 2 winners and an unreturned serve to move ahead 4-3. Radwanska responded the same way, holding to level the set at 4-4. Radwanska broke Li in the next service game at love to earn a chance to serve for the set, but as we have seen that Li Na brings out her best when she is down, she broke right back at love to bring the set back to serve.
Li held her serve after some drama to force Radwanska to serve to stay in the set, from serving to stay for the set. Both players brought everything they had into that game but in the end it was Li Na who broke Radwanska to clinch the first set in 75 minutes.

It was interesting to note that both players won more points behind their second serves than the points won behind their first serves. It was actually 2 overhead smashes put into the court that won Li the set.

Radwanska started the 2nd set stronger, winning 8 consecutive points to start the set, but from then on it was all Li Na, as she held and broke Radwanska right away to bring the set back to serve. Li went on to win 9 straight points which ended when she lost a point while serving at 4-2 up 40-0. Radwaska served to buy sometime into the match, and got two break points when she forced Li to serve for the match, but Li was just too strong as a long shot from Radwanska, and a deep Back-hand forcing an error from Radwanska saved Li Na.

What was alarming for Radwanska was her winner-unforced error differential, going into the match Radwanska had on average +2 winner unforced error differential, while Li had a -7, but by the end of the match Radwanska had -11 differential while Li had a differential of -8. Quite an unusual stat for Radwanska, who had hit 47 unforced errors in her last 4 matches here at Australian Open but hit 21 unforced errors in one match.

Radwanska did everything in her power to keep Li Na off-balance and move her around, mixing things up and for sometime it worked for Li Na, but Li Na kept going for her shots hitting powerful strokes, going for the lines and keeping the balls deep to keep Radwanska off-balance. Li Na and Radwanska now stand squared at 13-1 for the season and the lone loss  for both coming at the hand of the other.

During the second set, a ball hit Li Na's top frame of the racquet and went into the crowd, as she tossed the ball to serve. When asked about it in her on-court interview, she replied " I want to have good communication with the fans." Absolutely loved her response, jolly as always.

When asked about what Carlos brought to her as a coach, Li said " We had a very tough training in winter. After 3 days, I aksed him 'Do you know how old I am?' "

The lady has got the sense of humour.

As for now, Li goes on and will wait the winner of Maria Sharapova and Ekaterina Makarova.


  1. Glad to see Li Na win this one. Now only Sugarpova or Makarova stands in the way to the final. And yet again the pundits will predict Maria to beat Li in the semis assuming the Russian goes through instead of Makarova. If Makarova beats Sharapova then I think Li Na will have an easier job to get into the final. But still, it's not impossible for Li to beat Maria -- time for her revenge after losing to the Russian about 3 times before. However, Li has a better record against Maria in Australia. We shall see.

  2. People have been hyping Aggie, but her 2013 wins were for the most part against lower ranked nobody's. Aggie is always going to have trouble with power players. When someone is hot you can only tack down so many balls from we'll behind the baseline. In the absence of Radwanska developing a serve that breaks 80 mph and being able to rip a fh, grand slams finals are not in her future. She did make the wimby finals, but she got a heck of a kind draw and she easily could have gone down 6-0, 6-0 if it wasn't for serena's nerves.

    On another note, I really like what I see from Li. She showed nice controlled aggression today and served well in crucial moments. She is a clean ball striker with easy power and if she plays well she could win her first AO title. She goes in to the semi's as an underdog and I think that should benefit her. She will have nothing to lose and should be able to play free.

  3. Yes, you are right, everyone will pick Maria in case she gets past Makarova. Her return of serve is on another level at the moment and with Li winning less than 50% points behind her first serve in her QF win, I find it tough for Li to get past Sharapova. Makarova may be an easy target but you never know what happens on a given day.