Wawrinka Reaches Australian Open Final; Li to Play CibulkovaRob Gloster and Christopher Elser
Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka beat Tomas Berdych at the Australian Open to reach his first Grand Slam final. Li Na got to her third women’s final in Melbourne in four years to face Dominika Cibulkova.
Wawrinka, the No. 8 seed, defeated the seventh seed from the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) last night. The 28-year-old, who upset four-time champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals, will face the winner of today’s semifinal between compatriot Roger Federer and No. 1 Rafael Nadal of Spain.
“I’m working every day to win matches and I never expected to make a final of a Grand Slam,” Wawrinka said in a televised court-side interview. “I played really aggressive. It’s important against him to take the advantage as soon as you can during the rallies. He’s a great player and hard to beat.”
Wawrinka was able to exploit several double-faults in tiebreakers by 28-year-old Berdych, who lost the 2010 Wimbledon final to Nadal. Wawrinka has never beaten Nadal in 12 attempts, and Federer just once in 14 tries.
In the women’s semifinals, China’s Li beat Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-4 while No. 20 Cibulkova of Slovakia defeated No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-1, 6-2 to reach her first Grand Slam final.
Fourth-seeded Li, 31, the highest-rated woman remaining in Melbourne, won 20 of the first 23 points and took the first five games. She needed 85 minutes to finish off the victory and book a place in tomorrow’s final.
Cibulkova, 24, won her match in 69 minutes against an opponent who said she felt like she was moving in slow motion a day after upsetting two-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka in three sets.
“I feel real slow today, I was late for pretty much every ball,” Radwanska said in a news conference. “I could really feel that it was not really my day.”
The top three seeds -- No. 1 Serena Williams of the U.S. No. 2 Azarenka of Belarus and No. 3 Maria Sharapova of Russia -- all lost before the semifinals.
Li lost in the championship match in 2011 to Kim Clijsters of Belgium and to Azarenka last year.
“I think this is the third time, so pretty close to the trophy,” she told reporters.
Bouchard, 19, who was seeded 30th, was playing in her first semifinal at a Grand Slam tournament.
“I wouldn’t say I exceeded my expectations, but I’m happy with how I did,” Bouchard said at a news conference. “I always want to do better.”