Li Na to meet Dominika Cibulkova in final

12:57, Jan 23 2014
2014 Australian Open gallery
VENUS WILLIAMS: bowed out early in the first round.
2014 Australian Open gallery
EKATERINA MAKAROVA: celebrates her surprise win over Venus Williams.
2014 Australian Open gallery
DAVID FERRER: won through to the second round.
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NOVAK DJOKOVIC: got a first round win over Lukas Lacko.
Novak Djokovic
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Shirt changes likely common at this year's Australian Open.
Serena Williams
SERENA WILLIAMS: overpowered Ashleigh Barty in the first round.
Marcos Baghdatis
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: shows flexibility's important for a pro tennis player.
Yanina Wickmayer
YANINA WICKMAYER: beat Dinah Pfizenmaier in the first round.
Sabine Lisicki
SABINE LISICKI: had a straightforward 6-2 6-1 win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round.
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CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: celebrates winning her first round match against Lourdes Dominguez Lino.
Caroline Wozniacki gallery
HARD IN THE HEAT: An official attends to a ball boy who collapsed during the men's singles match between Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain and Milos Raonic.
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MILOS RAONIC: serves on an outside court with the Melbourne city skyline in the background.
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ANDY MURRAY: had a comprehensive win in his first round match against Japan Go Soeda.
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MARINA ERAKOVIC: hits a forehand during her first round match with Sorana Cirstea.
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SERENA WILLIAMS: untroubled in the second round match.
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NOVAK DJOKOVIC: hits a forehand during his second round match with Leonardo Mayer.
Roger Federer
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RAFAEL NADAL: fires down a serve to Thanasi Kokkinakis.
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Maria Sharapova hits a backhand during her third round match against Alize Cornet.
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Roger Federer has won through to the last 16 of the Australian Open in straight sets.
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Li Na in quarterfinal action against Flavia Pennetta.
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Eugenie Bouchard of Canada celebrates defeating Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals.
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Agnieszka Radwanska is through to the Australian Open semifinals.
2014 Australian Open gallery
Agnieszka Radwanska, left, shakes hands with Victoria Azarenka after their quarterfinal.
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Grigor Dimitrov, left, and Rafael Nadal speak at the net after their epic last-eight clash.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer reacts after match point against Andy Murray.
Li Na gallery
Li Na celebrates her semifinal win over Eugenie Bouchard.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal crushed Roger Federer in straight sets, and will play Stanislas Wawrinka for his 14th grand slam title in the Australian Open final.
Roger Federer
Roger Federer heads to the Australian Open exit.
Li Na
THIRD TIME LUCKY: Li Na kisses the Daphne Akhurst trophy after defeating Dominika Cibulkova in the Australian Open final.
Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova
Runner-up Dominika Cibulkova and champion Li Na during the trophy presentation.
Dominika Cibulkova
Dominika Cibulkova pumps her fist after winning a point in the Australian Open final.
Li Na
Li Na stretches for a two-handed volley in the women's final.
Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal receives treatment on his injured back during the men's singles final.
Stanislas Wawrinka
Stanislas Wawrinka reaches for a forehand during the men's singles final.
Stanislas Wawrinka
Stanislas Wawrinka kisses the Australian Open trophy after his first grand slam victory.
Stanislas Wawrinka
Stanislas Wawrinka sits with the Australian Open trophy at the post-final press conference.

China's Li Na will play Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the Australian Open final after both scored comfortable semifinal victories today.

Li, the fourth seed, looked like winning in record time against Canadian 30th seed Eugenie Bouchard, but failed to maintain the pressure and progressed with a 6-2 6-4 victory.

The 2011 French Open champion is into her fourth grand slam final - and third at Melbourne Park after losing title matches to Kim Clijsters in 2011 and Victoria Azarenka last year, both in three sets.

Cibulkova belied the seedings in her 6-1 6-2 defeat of Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska to make her first grand slam final.

The fifth-seeded Radwanska had the form and the record to dominate the semifinal, but the 20th seeded treated her as she had her previous four, more highly-ranked, opponents.

Cibulkova added Radwanska to a list that at this tournament includes third seed Maria Sharapova, 11th seed Simona Halep and 16th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.

She said she approached the semifinal as she had every other match.

"Even if I made mistakes, I knew I had to go out there and go for my shots," Cibulkova said.

"I have a lot of respect for Aga. Her defensive game is unbelievable."

A convincing scoreline in the first of Thursday's semis disguised a nagging fragility in Li's game.

After bursting from the blocks and racing to a 5-0 lead in only 14 minutes, Li took the same amount of time to wrap up the set and a further 58 minutes to complete the victory.

For Li, 31, the result was as it should have been against a relatively inexperienced 19-year-old.

But she might need to do more if she is to capitalise on her arrival in a grand slam final after twice being a loser.

Even in Li's barnstorming opening set, she dropped serve at 5-0.

Bouchard duly held for the only time in the set before Li went to a 1-0 lead.

The Canadian then issued her own challenge in the second set.

With a more composed approach she twice broke Li's serve, only two drop her own serve three times.

It was a performance the winner acknowledged.

"She will be No.1 in the world one day," Li said.

While Li seems certain to be a dominant favourite in her bid to add the Australian title to the French Open she won in 2011, the weight of history is against her.

Not since Margaret Smith Court won in 1973 has any woman over the age of 30 claimed an Australian Open crown.

The list of those to have tried and failed includes some of the greatest players of the last century, including Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert - and Li herself 12 months ago.



2013 Toronto, hard, QF, Li 7-6 (7-1) 6-2
2012 Rome, clay, QF, Li 6-1 7-6 (7-4)
2010 Madrid, clay, R32, Li 6-2 3-6 7-5
2008 Antwerp, carpet, R16, Li 6-4 6-3


Age: 31
Ranking: 4
Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Career prize money: $US13,410,352 ($A15.19 million)
Career titles: 8
Grand slam titles: 1 (French Open 2011)
Australian Open win-loss record: 32-8
Best Australian Open performances: finalist 2011, 2013, 2014


Age: 24
Ranking: 24
Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Career prize money: $US2,291,411 ($A2.60 million)
Career titles: 3
Grand slam titles: 0
Australian Open win-loss record: 13-6
Best Australian Open performance: finalist 2014


Dominika Cibulkova
OVER THE MOON: Dominika Cibulkova celebrates her win over Agnieszka Radwanska.