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Djokovic Joins Federer, Wozniacki in Australian Open Semifinals

Li Na Reaches Second Straight Australian Open Semifinal
Li Na of China serves during her women's singles quarter-final match against Andrea Petkovic. Photographer: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

Roger Federer advanced to his eighth straight semifinal at the Australian Open, where he’ll play Novak Djokovic. Women’s top seed Caroline Wozniacki fought back to reach the final four in Melbourne for the first time.

Defending champion Federer, the No. 2 seed, beat Stanislas Wawrinka 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in the first ever all-Swiss matchup in the last eight of a tennis major to extend his winning run to 15 matches.

“The score line suggests maybe it was easier than it looked,” Federer said in a news conference. “He really got into the match, especially in the second set. But I was able to mix it up well.”

Djokovic, who won his lone Grand Slam event at the 2008 Australian Open, overcame a second-set challenge from Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1. The third-seeded Serb defeated Federer in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, after saving two match points. He eventually lost to men’s top seed Rafael Nadal of Spain in the finals in New York.

Federer, seeking a record-extending 17th Grand Slam tennis title, is trying to become the second man to win the Australian Open at least five times after Australia’s Roy Emerson, who claimed six championships.

Federer, 29, used his full array of shots and only faced one break point in the match, which lasted 1 hour, 47 minutes at Rod Laver Arena. Wawrinka, 25, had reached the last eight without dropping a set and brought a nine-match winning streak into the contest.

Quick Set

The third-seeded Djokovic seemed on the way to a quick victory against Wimbledon finalist Berdych after taking the first set in 36 minutes. Early on in the second set, the sixth-seed from the Czech Republic forced a break for a 3-1 lead as Djokovic struggled with a dry contact lens. Djokovic, who frequently shook his head, screamed at himself and gestured to his coach, broke back in the seventh game, and took the tiebreaker as Berdych hit a backhand wide.

Djokovic was never in trouble in the third set as Berdych dropped his serve twice. Serving for a place in the last four in Melbourne for the first time since 2008, the Serb won the match with a powerful serve, his 34th winner. Berdych produced 29 winners.

“The second set was very close,” Djokovic, 23, said in a court-side interview. “I was lucky to get the win in the tiebreaker.”

Wozniacki Fights Back

Wozniacki, competing in her first major as the world’s top-ranked female player, dropped the first set before beating French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

That victory meant she secured her No. 1 ranking on the WTA tour, while Italy’s Schiavone will move up three spots to a career-high No. 4.

The 20-year-old Dane, who twice had her left thigh taped during the match, will next face No. 9 seed Li Na of China, who defeated 30th-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany to return to the semifinals for the second year in a row.

After wasting her previous seven break points, Wozniacki won her first game on Schiavone’s serve in the sixth game of the second set and broke serve again before holding serve to send the match to a deciding set.

She broke serve three times in the final set, completing the victory in 2 hours, 24 minutes on her fourth match point after Schiavone produced a series of winners to stay in the contest. Schiavone, 30, was playing two days after winning the longest women’s match at a major -- beating Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in 4 hours, 44 minutes.

‘Such a Fighter’

“Francesca is such a fighter,” Wozniacki said in a televised courtside interview. “She started off really well. I fought back. I’m so happy that I’m standing here as the winner of the match. It means so much to me.”

Li made it back-to-back semifinals at Melbourne Park with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Petkovic that extended her winning streak this year to 10 matches.

Li, 28, tuned up by beating Australian Open title favorite Kim Clijsters in the finals of an event in Sydney, becoming the first Chinese player to win a first-tier tournament. She’s now two wins away from becoming her nation’s first Grand Slam champion.

“It’s good for me,” Li said in a televised interview. “I played well in Sydney, too, so maybe I can do better here this year. I don’t want to lose in the semis again.”

Li, whose groundstrokes averaged 10 kilometers per hour (6 mph) faster than Petkovic’s, fought back from 0-2 down in each set to take the victory in 80 minutes.

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