MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Two-time finalist Li Na stayed in contention for another Australian Open title match after beating Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2 Tuesday to advance to the semifinals at Melbourne Park.
After beating two 16-year-olds in the opening rounds and saving a match point against Lucie Safarova in the third, No. 4-seeded Li was relentless in defeating the 28th-seeded Pennetta, who buried her face in her towel during a changeover while trailing 5-0 in the opening set.
“After saving the match point, I think I got a lot of confidence,” Li said in her on-court, post-match interview. “Even more belief in myself.”
Li lost her serve just once – while leading 5-0 in the opening set – and finished off the 67-minute match with an easy forehand to the open court that Pennetta could only watch flat-footed from a distance.
Li, who lost to Victoria Azarenka in the 2013 final and to Kim Clijsters in 2011, will next play the winner of Tuesday’s later quarterfinal between Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and Eugenie Bouchard of Canada.
Ivanovic ended top-ranked Serena Williams’ title ambitions this year with a three-set win over the American on Sunday in the fourth round.
Azarenka, who is attempting to win her third consecutive title here, plays her quarterfinal match against Agnieszka Radwanska on Wednesday. Simona Halep will play Dominika Cibulkova, who beat Maria Sharapova in the fourth round, in another quarterfinal on the same day.
Later Tuesday, No. 3 David Ferrer played No. 7 Tomas Berdych in the first men’s quarterfinal. In a night match on Rod Laver Arena, Novak Djokovic continues his quest for a fourth consecutive Australian Open title with a quarterfinal match against No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka.
The other half of the men’s draw plays its quarterfinals on Wednesday when top-ranked Rafael Nadal takes on Grigor Dimitrov and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray plays 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer.