In first trip to Aussie Open, teen reaches semis

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In first trip to Aussie Open, teen reaches semis

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Li Na of China returns to Flavia Pennetta of Italy during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open in Melbourne yesterday. [REUTERS/NEWS1]

MELBOURNE, Australia - Eugenie Bouchard has reached the semifinals in her first trip to the Australian Open, beating 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 yesterday to set up a showdown with fourth-seeded Li Na.

The result means two-time Australian Open finalist Li, who beat Flavia Pennetta, 6-2, 6-2 in an earlier quarterfinal featuring two women who’ll turn 32 next month, will have to face a teenager for the third time in the tournament.

The 19-year-old Bouchard, the first Canadian to reach the Australian Open semifinals, played with composure against former No. 1-ranked Ivanovic, who started the season with a title at Auckland, New Zealand, and produced a major upset to eliminate top-ranked Serena Williams in the fourth round here. Bouchard went to the net 24 times and won 19 of those points. She broke Ivanovic’s serve seven times, including the last game, and had to sit through a lengthy time out when she was trailing 4-3 in the second set while her opponent received treatment.

The WTA Tour’s Newcomer of the Year in 2013, Bouchard is playing just her fourth Grand Slam tournament. She has a growing group of supporters at Melbourne Park.

Li is also a crowd favorite in Australia, where she lost the finals last year to Victoria Azarenka and in 2011 to Kim Clijsters and has reached the semifinals four times in the last five years. Azarenka, the two-time defending champion, is in the other half of the draw.

Li won her only previous match against Bouchard in straight sets at Montreal in 2012.

“We had a tough battle last time, and I think I didn’t have a lot of experience back then,’’ Bouchard said. This time, I think I’ll be ready.’’

Li beat two 16-year-olds in the opening rounds and had to save a match point against Lucie Safarova in the third. Against No. 28 Pennetta, she was relentless, keeping the mistakes down while going for her winners.

“After saving the match point, I think I got a lot of confidence,’’ Li said of her close call in the third round. “Even more belief in myself.’’

Li lost her serve just once - while leading 5-0 in the opening set - and finished off the 67-minute match with an easy forehand to the open court.

AP
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