Wednesday 23 January 2013

Li Na d. Maria Sharapova (Australian Open 2013 Semi-Finals)

Li Na looked back to see if Mara Sharapova had emerged from the locker room or not, while she was waiting for her in the gallery so that the two could walk to the court. Li Na lead Maria Sharpaova to the court and never looked back again.

Maria Sharapova walked onto the court determined to make it to back to back Australian Open finals for the second time in her career. She walked behind Li Na to the court, got to the net for coin toss after Li Na and never recovered from being behind Li Na. Li Na won the coin toss but chose to receive the serve.

Sharapova opened the match with back to back double faults, and Li Na capitalised on the opportunity to break Sharapova to take an early lead. This set the pattern for the entire match. Li Na whose serve had been questionable coming to the match, saved a break point to hold her serve and go up 2-0. Both players held serve to make it 3-1.
A Sharapova double fault, preceded by a Li Na winner gave Li another opening. Sharapova saved two break points by putting pressure on Li Na's forehand but the third break point proved too much for Sharapova as Li Na drilled a winner to drown Sharapova into a 2 break deficit to lead 4-1. This was for the first time in the Australian Open that Sharapova had lost more than 3 games in a set.

Li Na saved two break points but Sharapova kept fighting and converted on her 3rd opportunity to bring the deficit to one break of serve and get back to 4-2. However, that was all from Sharapova, as Li broke Sharapova right back and held her own serve to put one foot into the final. Li won the first set 6-2.

Sharapova started the second set stronger by holding her serve and getting to a break point on Li Na's serve. however, it proved to be a day when Li Na's fore-hand wont break down, as she hit a forehand winner to save the break point.  Sharapova got a look at 2nd break point in the game but 2 good first serves and an overcooked forehand from Sharapova let Li Na walk away with her service.

Both players held serve to make it 2-all. Li Na, who has been refrred as Nails, started nailing Sharapova's second serve. A double fault from Sharapova gave Li a break point and an over hit forehand from Sharapova put in one of the last nails into the coffin of Sharapova, as Li lead 3-2 in the 2nd set.

Sharapova again got to a break point on Li's serve to bring it back to serve but great first and second serves from Li Na erased any hopes Sharapova had, and Li moved ahead 4-2.

Li Na hit the final nail into Sharapova's coffin by breaking her serve yet again, to give herself a chance to serve for the match.

An excellent un-returnable serve gave Li her first match point, but a missed forehand got the game back to deuce. An ace at perfect time to bring a second match point and a return into the net from Sharapova put Li Na's second foot into the final.

The key to Li Na's win today was her forehand which did not break down. Just like I mentioned in my preview of the match, the player with cleaner stats will go on to win the match. Sharapova entered the match with a winner-unforced error of +5 on average while Li Na had a -8 differential, but Sharapova left the court and the tournament with -15 winners unforced errors for the match and Li Na left the court to walk back on Saturday with a +3 differential. Sharapova had only been broken twice in her last 5 matches but got broken 5 times today and Li Na who had been broken for 11 times in the tournament when she entered the match, was broken only once.

Sharapova will have to wait for another year to lay her hands on to the Australian Open trophy, while Li Na gives herself another chance to win her first Australian Open title.

Li Na's win ended Sharapova's chances of returning to world no.1. For now on, Li walks on and will wait for the winner of Azarenka/Stephens match in the final.

I will end the match report with this, Li Na as asked in on-court interview to comment on her age, which she replied by saying to Rennae Stubs "No, you know in truth I am younger than you".


  1. So glad, Li Na, my pick for a final berth, is there to rumble with Vika Azarenka for the AO title.

    But I'm a bit disappointed because I had picked Serena vs Li for the final which is out of the question now.

    I'm fully aware Li is in peak form coming into 2013 and would like to see her face Serena. Li is not intimidated by the American. They had met before and it was no joy ride for Serena. I was banking on Li to beat Serena in the final but too bad the American didn't turn up.

    Oh well, maybe they could meet somewhere in Europe or USA.

  2. I am also very happy to see her doing well again. She is such a joy to watch when she is on. I also wanted to see a Serena Li final, would love to see how Serena would come up, since Li has always played tough against Serena.
    Hoping for Li Na to win the final