Li beats Wozniacki, reaches Australian Open final

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Melbourne, Jan 27 (AP) Li Na became the first Chineseplayer to reach a Grand Slam singles final, saving a matchpoint before beating top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 7-5,6-3 Thursday in the Australian Open semifinals.

Wozniacki, playing at a major for the first time with theNo. 1 ranking, had match point at 5-4 and 40-30 in the secondset before Li rallied. An hour and six minutes later, sheserved out on her first match point.

Li, who lost to Serena Williams in two tiebreak sets inthe semifinals here last year, will meet either Kim Clijstersor No. 2 Vera Zvonareva in the final.

Li beat Clijsters in the final of the leadup event atSydney earlier this month, becoming the first Chinese woman towin a WTA premier event. It was just another first for Li, whowas the first Chinese player to win a tour-level title and thefirst to enter the top 10.

She is also the first player from Asia to reach a GrandSlam singles final.

"I''m so happy I can be the first Chinese player to cometo a final. I always do the first one!," she said in alighthearted interview after the match in which she jokedabout losing sleep on the eve of the match because hercoach-husband Shan Jiang was snoring.

Asked what motivated her comeback, she deadpanned: "Prizemoney."

Li looked down and out after the first set, when she made17 unforced errors and struggled for consistency. She finishedwith 51 unforced errors, but that was a reflection of herpushing Wozniacki to the extremes.

Wozniacki could have ended the match in 1 hour, 29minutes, but Li hit a forehand down the line, forcing an errorand saving match point. It sparked a revival. She broke inthat game to make it 5-5, held at love and then broke herDanish rival''s serve again -- after Wozniacki three times hadgame points to force a tiebreaker --to make it level at oneset apiece.

They traded breaks twice in the third set before Li heldher nerve to finish it off when Wozniacki miscued a forehand.

(AP) AT

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