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Sharapova and Li seal semifinal showdown

[ 2011-06-02 10:44]     字号 [] [] []  
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Maria Sharapova of Russia and Li Na of China put aside years of struggling on clay courts on Wednesday to set up a tantalizing French Open semifinal showdown.

The 7th-seeded Sharapova underlined her newfound confidence on the slippery red dirt at Roland Garros with a 6-0, 6-3 thumping of Germany's Andrea Petkovic.

Li, seeded 6, hit back from a break down in each set to defeat Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 7-5, 6-2.

Thursday's other semifinal matches defending champion, Francesca Schiavone of Italy, and France's 11th seed Marion Bartoli.

Sharapova's win moved her to within two wins of a career Grand Slam, a feat that only nine women have achieved.

A semifinalist here in 2007, the 24-year-old Russian was in unstoppable form in the first set, breaking in the first, third and fifth games before taking the opener 6-0, allowing the German just seven points on her serve.

The 29-year-old Li became the first Chinese player to reach a French Open semifinal with her accomplished win over fourth seed Azarenka.

She now stands just one match away from a second straight Grand Slam final, having lost to Kim Clijsters in the Australian Open championship match at the start of the year.

On that occasion she was the first Chinese player to have reached the final of a Grand Slam event.

Azarenka, the highest-ranking and, at 21, the youngest player left in the tournament, procured the first break of the match in the third game, but she gave that back immediately with a poor service game that ended in a double fault.

Li, who converted to tennis as a 9-year-old after an early grounding in badminton, saved two break points in a marathon seventh game before finally taking a 4-3 lead.

The Belarusian was being made to work hard by her Chinese opponent, who varied her shots to great effect in order to pull Azarenka away from the baseline where she was able to dominate with her heavier hitting.

Those tactics worked a treat in the 12th game when she twice wrong-footed the fourth-seed to get to 0-40 and then clinched the set with a rasping backhand crosscourt drive.

The second set opened in identical fashion to the first with Azarenka breaking in the third game to take a 2-1 lead only for Li to hit back immediately with a break.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Sharapova and Li seal semifinal showdown

About the broadcaster:

Sharapova and Li seal semifinal showdown

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.