Australian Open: Li to face Cibulkova in finals

DPA Melbourne | Updated on March 12, 2018

China’s Li Na   -  Wikipedia

China’s Li Na will play Slovak Dominika Cibulkova in Saturday’s Women’s final at the Australian Open after both mowed down opponents in just over an hour.

Li, who will bid for a second Grand Slam title to back up her 2011 Roland Garros trophy, on Thursday entered her third title match at Melbourne Park, fighting off a charge from Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-4 in 64 minutes to win their semi-final.

It took Cibulkova six minutes longer to fulfill her part of the Sino-Slovak bargain with the diminutive Eastern European crushing fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-1, 6-2.

Li stands 11-0 this season and has lost two of the last three finals at the event, to Kim Clijsters in 2011 and Victoria Azarenka last year.

“There is never an easy match in a Grand Slam,” said Li, 31. “Of course I was nervous. It doesn’t matter how many semis you play. If you play semis, you are still nervous because it is the semis.

“Last time (2013) was a little bit tough so I will try this time to make one more step,” said Li, who won with 35 winners and six breaks of her 19-year-old opponent whose ranking may now rise into the top 20.

“It’s not only about my technique, I’m playing much stronger on court, I’m more stable.” Bouchard was only the second Canadian woman in three decades to get this far at a major, and was playing the event for the first time in her career.

“To me, this is not a surprise. I’ve been working hard my whole life to do this, play at Grand Slams and do well,” said the teenager.

“It’s not an overnight thing. So I’m just going to go back to the practice courts and keep working hard.” Cibulkova came to the court having lost five of six previous meetings, with her only victory last summer for the Stanford title.

It was a rout in her favour this time around.

“I feel like in slow motion today,” said Radwanska, who added, “I had a couple of tough matches. I was not fresh enough.” Cibulkova becomes the first Slovak woman to go this far at a major and was thrilled to be in the mix.

“I still can’t believe I’m playing the final. I’ll need a few more hours. But I will be prepared 100 per cent. I have no words. This is just incredible.

“Aga is an unbelievable player. I knew the match would be extra tough so I went for my shots, even if I made errors.

“I had so many thoughts at the end, but I concentrated on my job. But after 5-2 I knew I was going to win.” Cibulkova went through to the biggest match of her career with 21 winners, and six breaks of serve.

Published on January 23, 2014

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