Thursday, January 27, 2011

Li Na makes history, will play Clijsters for Grand Slam glory.

Kim Clijsters is into her second final at the Australian Open and trying to win her fourth grand slam title – but her first outside New York.

She took care of world No.2 Vera Zvonareva on Rod Laver Arena today 6-3 6-3 after China’s Li Na came from a set down and a match point against her to beat world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki in a thriller 3-6 7-5 6-3.

The pair will now meet in Saturday night’s women’s singles final.

It wasn’t all that long ago – in fact two weeks – that Li and Clijsters met in a WTA final. It was the Sydney International and Clijsters will remember all too well about having a 5-0 lead in the first set but eventually losing the match 7-6 6-3.

“I was able to rise to the occasion today,” Clijsters said of her triumph over Zvonareva, whom she beat in September last year too win her third US Open.

“I’ve played some big matches and haven’t won them all, but it definitely teaches you something, the losses.”

Li will be playing in her maiden grand slam final – the first Chinese player to do so. Clijsters has actually been in seven grand slam finals, having lost the first four before her triumph in the 2005 US Open.

But it’s been a while between drinks in Melbourne. Clijsters lost the 2004 final to Belgian compatriot Justine Henin, who coincidently announced her second retirement from the game overnight due to her elbow tendon injury.

More recently Clijsters lost the 2007 semi-final to Maria Sharapova in Melbourne before retiring herself to get married and start a family. She returned to Melbourne last year and was humiliated in the third round 6-0 6-1 by Nadia Petrova.

But she said her philosophy has always been to keep fighting.

“I tried really hard on every point as I had tough matches against Vera last year and lost to her a couple of times,” Clijsters said on-court today.

“I try to make my opponents go for that one extra shot every time. You have to try to be the last one standing.”

The victory didn't come as easy, but little has in the life of Na Li, who became the first player from China to reach the final of a Grand Slam when she knocked No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki out of the Australian Open with a spectacular victory.

Li, who had reached the semifinal last year, saved a match point down 4-5 in the second set with a screaming forehand winner and then never looked back, putting on a ferocious display from inside the baseline and never backing off the ball. She sealed the contest when a shaken Wozniacki erred on a forehand.

"This is good experience for my whole life, because many player, they play long time, but they never come to the final for a Grand Slam," said the Li, who lost to Serena Williams in last year's semifinal. "Today I get it."

The 20-year-old Dane was rock solid for the first set and half, serving brilliantly, pushing herself to make her forehand a weapon and relentlessly retrieving Li's blasts.
She broke Li to open the match and while Li broke back to 2-2 behind heavy groundstrokes, the quick Wozniacki sprinted to and fro and put up a wall behind the baseline, forcing Li into one error after another. She broke Li at 4-3 and eventually won the set, where she only committed two unforced errors.

A confident Wozniacki broke Li to 2-1 by ripping a return winner, but was unable to break Li again in a long and tough seventh game, and then began to lose control of the contest.
Li began to hit the corners, charge the net and yank Wozniacki from side to side. Li forced her into a forehand error to break back to 4-4, but then was inexplicably broken to 5-4 when she hit a forehand approach shot way wide. Wozniacki held her sole match point at 5-4, but played the point too passively and Li responded by ripping a forehand winner down the line, She won three straight games and took the set when the Dane double faulted.

Wozniacki kept running, but could never dictate in the third set and the match was on Li's racket. She did manage to break Li to 2-1, but then her wheels came off as she was broken back to 2-2, was broken again to 4-2 on a backhand error and while Li dropped her serve to 4-3, she out muscled Wozniacki in the next two games. The 28-year-old ripped a forehand cross court winner to gain a match point and then watched Wozniacki miss a forehand of her own to end the contest.


Anonymous said...

Kimmie will bring home the bacon for Jada!

Carlos said...

I agree with you caps321 Kookie Monster will win the slam.

I didn't care for the Kookie Monster/Vera semifinal. I started watching the match, after Kookie Monster went up 4-2 in the first set I said ,"Set over" and proceeded to change the channel. A while later I turned back to the game, Kookie Monster was leading 3-1 in the second set, I said, "Match over". Why did I came to that conclusion? I'll try it to keep it PG (clean), when it comes to facing Kim in slams, Vera becomes the submissive cell mate companion of Kim.

Captain this is the way I saw The Big Stuffed Bunny/Li Na match. The first set and a half it was a gift wrapped from Li Na to The Bunny. Unforced errors from Na was the reason The Bunny was even in the match. Na dictated play from the get go, set up the points well, but when it came to finishing the point Na's execution ended in an unforced errors. The Bunny choke at set point, from there is was over for her, it broke The Bunny's back and will. Third set, The Bunny serving being up 2-1, I noticed she was tired. Na proceeded to break The Bunny. It was around that moment that The Bunny had a mini melt down. The Bunny ran out gas and I think she knew it too, so much for her physical conditioning.She couldn't run around and return shot like she did in the first set. Na's shots from the middle of the second set began to fall in and that pretty much sealed The Bunny's fate. The Bunny gets the reward of being a faux number one. Good for Na, but I think she spent too much energy and emotion in this match. There was a moment that it looked all over for her but she came back to win it.

BTW how many people had Na in the final?

My prediction for the final: Kookie Monster over Na in straight sets. I'll be rooting for Na, and where the hell is Lex Luthor with a bag of Kryptonite when you need him? :P

Captain did attend either or both of the semifinal matches?

Emily or as Carlos likes to call me "Captain" said...

caps321, I agree.

This is by far, Kim's final to win or loose.

Li won sydney over Kim but that far cry short of the pressures of a Grand Slam!

I was at both semi's Carlos! But at the 4-5 change of ends, in the second set with The Bunny serving, I left, to go to the toilet, because I thought that would be the end of the match. I returned to see it in a second set, only to hear that Li had saved match point. Not my best move! Ahaha.

The Bunny, needs to be more aggressive! She will never win a slam trying to force errors from opponents! This is why she has never beaten Serena, Venus or Kim, because they don't make errors on crucial points, and her game plan is all about her opponents making errors!

I think Kim in 3.

Carlos said...

Captain next time pace yourself with beverages :P or you should have done what Li Na's husband did sprint to and back. You are too young to be wearing diapers. :P

Are you going to the final Captain?

Emily or as Carlos likes to call me "Captain" said...

Ahahah I would love to pace my self, but the Pim's call to me! Ahahhah

I did attend the final, and I picked it right! Kim in 3, you read it here first! Ahahaha.

Carlos said...

Yes you did! I have to give you another high five!

Emily or as Carlos likes to call me "Captain" said...

Thank you Carlos! And a well deserved on too!

Carlos said...

I forgot to ask, are Pim's refreshment beverages or beverages with a slight alcohol in them like wine coolers?

Emily or as Carlos likes to call me "Captain" said...

Pim's have alcohol in them, yes like wine coolers!

Carlos said...

In that case, Cheers Captain! :)

Have you ever had one too many in a tennis match? :P

Emily or as Carlos likes to call me "Captain" said...

Well, I have had one too many on a few occasions at a tennis match! The first time was 2010 Australian Open, during a hot day, and decided to substitute alcoholic drinks for water! Once at Roland Garros, and one time at Sydney! So once or twice!

Carlos said...

You surprise me Captain! I hope you didn't go all J. Docki's father in the stands. : P

The last time I was under the influence of alcohol it was because my drink was spiked, New Year's eve 2009. Nobody likes a drunken Carlos. :P

FYI I don't drink, smoke, nor do drugs.

Emily or as Carlos likes to call me "Captain" said...

I'm full of surprises! Ahaha, don't worry, I didn't pull a Damir Dokic! :)

I don't smoke or do drugs...but I do drink! Its a very strong part of Australian culture!

Carlos said...

Good to know! :)

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