Tennis: Ferrer, Li Na reach semi finals


Spain’s fourth seed David Ferrer fought back from two sets down to beat compatriot Nicolas Almagro in five sets and reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Tuesday.

Ferrer won 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in 3hr 44min on Rod Laver Arena and will face the winner of the quarter-final between defending champion Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych.

China’s Li Na has also reached her first Grand Slam semi-final since she won the French Open Tuesday when she halted the red-hot streak of Agnieszka Radwanska at the Australian Open.

The 2011 French Open winner became the first player this year to take a set off off the Polish world number four when she edged a tight opening set containing seven breaks of serve.

Radwanska came storming back by winning eight points in a row to take the first two games of the second set to love. But Li then rattled off five straight games before serving it out for a 7-5, 6-3 win.

Li’s victory halted the hottest streak on the women’s tour after Radwanska had totted up 13 straight wins, including 26 unbeaten sets, and picked up titles in Auckland and Sydney.

“She’s a tough player. I felt like I was against a wall today. She can hit everywhere, but without any mistakes,” said Li.

“I felt it was just very tough. You have to focus on every shot. Not every point, every shot. If you hit like slow or like short one, she’ll attack.”

Li will face the winner of Tuesday’s all-Russian quarter-final between world number two Maria Sharapova and Ekaterina Makarova in the last four, which is her third Australian Open semi-final.

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The 30-year-old has not contested a major semi-final since two years ago at the French Open, when she made history as Asia’s first Grand Slam winner and created a wave of interest in tennis in her home country.

She said her experience would stand her in good stead in the last four — along with a newfound calm she has discovered since teaming with coach Carlos Rodriguez last year.

“If you want to win a Grand Slam, you have to win seven matches. Doesn’t matter you lucky or unlucky, you still have to win seven matches. This is very tough,” she said.

“Right now I think I’ve changed a little bit in my mind, because before I used to think, ‘OK, if I win, who will I play, who will I be against in the fourth round or fifth round?’

“But this time I really didn’t look at the draw. I really didn’t think that far, I just prepared myself match by match.”

Radwanska had beaten Li only last week, in the Sydney semi-finals, but she said the Chinese star had raised her game when it counted on the big stage.

“I think she played better than last week in Sydney. Definitely she was very solid from the beginning of the match. She was really playing good tennis,” said the Pole.

“Some of the games she didn’t let me do anything. Very deep balls all the time. Good serve. She was really playing good tennis today.”

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