China’s Li makes Australian Open last eight

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Li Na. AFP PHOTO

MELBOURNE – Chinese star Li Na advanced to the Australian Open last eight on Sunday, beating Julia Goerges in her quest to make a second final at Melbourne Park in three years.

Sixth seed Li beat the 18th-seeded German 7-6 (8/6), 6-1 and will play either fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska or 13th seed Ana Ivanovic for a place in the last four.

Li, who wants to crack the top three this year with the help of new coach Carlos Rodriguez, had never before faced Goerges, who was gunning for her first Grand Slam quarter-final appearance.

And the Chinese star said the tight first-set tiebreaker was the turning point of the match.

“If I had lost the first set it could have been another story,” she said. “I just kept going point by point, not thinking too much.”

The pair began tentatively on Hisense Arena, trading serves until Li broke in the fourth game. She then went 4-1 up and looked to be cruising but the German made the most of some sloppy serving by the Chinese to break back.

The set went to serve and a tense tiebreaker, with the consistent Li prevailing after saving a set point and then reeling off three points in a row to take a one-set lead after 54 minutes.

The former French Open champion, who was beaten in the 2011 Australian Open final by Kim Clijsters, kept the pressure on by getting a break on the German’s opening service game in the second set.

Goerges, who was playing Li for the first time, had no answers to Li’s accurate baseline game and when she got broken again there was no way back, and the Chinese number one romped home in 86 minutes.

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