China''s Li charges into Open semis

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Melbourne, Jan 25 (AFP) China''s Li Na powered into hersecond straight Australian Open semi-final when sheoverwhelmed Germany''s Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-4 on Tuesday.

Li survived a blistering start by the German in both setsto defeat Petkovic in 80 minutes at Rod Laver Arena, keepingalive Chinese hopes of a first Grand Slam singles title.

The Chinese world number 11 won the Sydney Internationalin the lead-up to the Australian Open and showed she is stillin great touch as she defused any threat from the 23-year-oldPetkovic.

Petkovic had shown no signs of nerves at the start as shebroke Li and held her own serve to open a 2-0 lead.

But the Chinese number one, who made six unforced errorsin the first two games, found her range and soon began todominate the rallies with her powerful and flat groundstrokes.

She pressured Petkovic''s serve and was paricularly savageon the German''s weaker second serve as she won six games in arow to take the first set in 36 minutes.

The German regrouped at the start of the second, againbreaking Li''s serve and holding her own to go to 2-0 up, butthen served a horrible service game to give the break straightback.

Games went with serve until 5-4 when Petkovic made fourwild unforced errors on her forehand to hand the quarter-finalto Li.

"There were no easy games, the score was 6-2, 6-4 but westill played a lot of tennis," Li said. "She''s a good playerbut I was a little bit better today."

Li has broken a host of records for Chinese tennis -- thefirst player to win a tour event, the first to break into thetop 10 and the first to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final.

She next plays either top seed Caroline Wozniacki ofDenmark or Italy''s Francesca Schiavone in the semi-finals andmust now be considered a genuine contender to secure China''smaiden Grand Slam title.

"I have had some great matches in Australia -- this is mysecond time in the Grand Slam semi-final at the AustralianOpen," she said.

"I played really well in Sydney and I hope I can dobetter here this year. I don''t want to lose in the semisagain." (AFP) AT

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