China's Li into Sydney final
Updated: 2011-01-14 08:01
SYDNEY - China's Li Na continues to suggest she might match or even better last year's breakthrough at the Australian Open after she reached the final of the Sydney International warm-up on Thursday.
The big-hitting 28-year-old, who made it to the last four at Melbourne Park last year, came back from a break down in the first set to beat Serbian teenager Bojana Jovanovski 7-6, 6-3 and reach her eighth career final.
"It wasn't easy, she's young but she's playing well," said Li, who was at a loss to explain her great start to the year.
"I just came in, and then finally I was in the final. I was surprised. I always play well in Australia. I don't know why."
Li, seeded ninth for Melbourne Park, will face either third seed Kim Clijsters or Russian Alisa Kleybanova in Friday evening's final.
Former top 10 player Gilles Simon continued his battle back from a serious knee injury to reach the last four in the men's section with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov on a windy day at the Sydney Olympic Park.
The French baseline hustler, who was ranked as high as sixth in the world at the start of 2009 after beating Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic in 2008, said his mobility was improving.
"My physical trainer is 47-years-old, and when we were running he was faster than me," he said. "He's still fit, but still, I was one of the fastest player on the tour.
"Trust me, I'm moving far better now than three or four months ago."
His semi-final opponent, Ernest Gulbis, was, by contrast, feeling terrible after his 6-4, 6-4 quarter-final victory over another Ukrainian, Sergiy Stakhovsky.
"Bad," the Latvian said when asked how he felt. "Yesterday's match killed me physically. It was really humid and I lost a lot fluids, so I went straight to the hotel and I went to sleep. I didn't feel good.
"Going to be okay tomorrow. I just can't go really long matches. Don't tell Simon," he said, with a laugh.
(China Daily 01/14/2011 page24)
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