Sixth-seeded Li Na of China beat Russia's Maria Sharapova, the No. 2 seed, 6-2, 6-2, while defending champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus ended American teen Sloane Stephens's dream run 6-1, 6-4 Thursday in the semifinals of the Australian Open.
"Beginning of the match I was nervous. I was happy I come back to semis again, but for some reason I really want to win the match," Li said after the match. "I don't know what happened today. Just come to the court, feeling like, Okay, just do it. Yeah."
Li used an effective serve to beat Sharapova, who committed 17 unforced errors and had trouble with her own service game in the first set.
"I think she played a really great match. She was certainly much more aggressive than I was, dictating the play. I was always on the defense. When I had my opportunities and breakpoints in games that went to deuce, I don't think any of them really went my way today," Sharapova said.
The Russian appeared to be having trouble focusing during the match, committing three double-faults and piling up 14 unforced errors in the second set.
In the other women's semifinal match, the 23-year-old Azarenka rolled over the 19-year-old Stephens, who pulled off the upset of the tournament by beating fellow American Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.
Azarenka had some problems during the match but was able to stay focused.
"I had been struggling a little bit throughout the whole match, from the second set, my back. And it just kept getting worse. I should have, you know, called the trainer a little bit earlier before that when I got to the point that I couldn't really breathe and had to go off court," Azarenka said.
Stephens, who staged a tremendous comeback against Williams, was unable to figure out Azarenka.
"I obviously didn't get the win, but I just did everything I could and came up a little bit short. All in all it was okay," Stephens said.
The Australian Open is the first of four Grand Slam events on the tennis calendar. EFE