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Li, Bouchard reach Aussie semis

8:37 AM, Jan 21, 2014   |    comments
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Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) - Fourth-seeded Li Na and 30th seed Eugenie Bouchard were Tuesday's quarterfinal winners at the 2014 Australian Open.

The two-time runner-up Li whipped 28th-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2 in a match that lasted just 67 minutes at Melbourne Park. The 31-year-old Pennetta was a surprise U.S. Open semifinalist in September.

"After saving the match point, I think I got a lot of confidence," the 31- year-old Li said of her close call against Czech Lucie Safarova in the third round here. "Even more belief in myself."

The former French Open champion lost to two-time reigning Aussie Open champ Victoria Azarenka in last year's Down Under final and Kim Clijsters in the 2011 finale.

Li will appear in her fifth career major semifinal (2-2).

The Chinese star's semifinal opponent on Thursday will be the rising 19-year- old Canadian Bouchard, who upset 14th-seeded former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 in 2 hours, 24 minutes to secure a berth in her first-ever Grand Slam semi.

"It's something I've been doing since I was five years old and working my whole life for and sacrificing a lot of things for, so it's not exactly a surprise," the 2013 WTA "Newcomer of the Year" Bouchard said. "I always expect myself to do well. I'm just happy to have gone through this step. I'm not done."

Bouchard, who will turn 20 next month, is the first Canadian woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Carling Bassett at the 1984 U.S. Open.

The former French Open champion and former Aussie Open runner-up Ivanovic stunned current world No. 1 Serena Williams on Sunday and recently captured a title in Auckland to open her 2014 season.

"She's brave. She's young. She has nothing to lose," Ivanovic said of Bouchard, who's appearing in her first Australian Open. "I think she's a very great player with a bright future."

The quarterfinals will wrap up on Wednesday, when the reigning Oz champion Azarenka will take on fifth-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska and 11th-seeded Romanian Simona Halep will face 20th-seeded Slovak Dominika Cibulkova, who stunned third seed Maria Sharapova on Monday. Azarenka is a dominant 12-3 lifetime against Radwanska, including a come-from-behind Aussie Open quarterfinal victory two years ago.

The Sports Network

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