China’s Li Na upset world number one and top seed Caroline Wozniacki 3-6 7-5 6-3 to reach the final of the Australian Open on Thursday.
Ninth seed Li saved a match point in the second set before fighting back to beat the 20-year-old Dane and become the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam singles final.
Li was a picture of torment in the early part of the match, bleating at her coach and husband in the stands as her baseline rockets cannoned into the net or sailed over the lines.
But the Chinese saved her best tennis for when she really needed it, saving the match point and caressing a sharp volley to break back to 5-5.
With red-clad Chinese fans screaming “Jia you!” [come on], Li sealed the set when Wozniacki crumbled with a double-fault, sending her husband, Jiang Shan, scurrying for a convenience break.
Both players struggled to hold serve in a final set of unrelenting tension, but Li captured the decisive break at 4-3 when Wozniacki netted a shot after a ferocious baseline battle.
Li stood firm when serving for the match, sealing it when Wozniacki clubbed a shot wide to raise China’s hopes of a maiden singles Grand Slam champion.
Li will play Kim Clijsters or Vera Zvonareva in the final on Saturday. — Reuters