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Li na puts brakes on Maria run

China’s Li Na stormed into the final of the Australian Open Thursday with a straight-sets upset win over Maria Sharapova, leaving her one victory away from her second major title.

Li, 30, defeated the world number two 6-2, 6-2 in 1hr 33min. Every time I’m back in Australia, I always feel something here,” said Li, the 2011 runner-up. “I always play well here. Everyone can be nervous in a final, so I have to enjoy it. I’m looking forward to the final.”

Sharapova had lost only nine games in her march to the semi-finals, a tournament record, but Li was always going to provide a far sterner test despite trailing 4-8 in their head-to-head.

And the Russian started disastrously with consecutive double faults as she was broken in the opening game. Four-time major-winner Sharapova could have returned to world number one if she had won her second Australian Open title, but Li’s ball-striking had her on the back foot from the beginning.  

Li Na polished off the upset victory as Sharapova finished with a ruinous 32 unforced errors.

Novak Djokovic produced some of the best tennis of his career and wasted little time in advancing to his third successive Australian Open final with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 destruction of fourth seed David Ferrer in 89 minutes on Thursday.

The world number one was in no mood to allow Ferrer the opportunity to come back from a two-set deficit as the Spaniard did against compatriot Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals, and blasted him off court.

“I was aware of David’s qualities; I wanted to be aggressive on the court and this was definitely one of the best matches of my career,” said the 25-year-old Serbian, who is seeking to become the first man in the professional era to win three successive Australian titles.
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