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Li Na sets up Maria clash

Li Na sets up Maria clash
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Home favourite Li Na set up a testing China Open semifinal with Russian tennis queen Maria Sharapova Friday as the fairytale run of Zhang Ze in the men’s draw came crashing to a halt.

Li, Asia’s only Grand Slam winner, defeated defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-4, 6-2 to join Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka in the last four, who dropped just two games between them in their quarterfinal matches.

Victory for world number eight Li also secured her the final place at the end-of-season WTA Championships in Istanbul later this month.

Showing ominous form, French Open champion Sharapova, yet to drop a set in China, won the first set 6-0, and was 3-0 up in the second when Germany’s Angelique Kerber quit the match citing an injury to her right foot.

‘I thought we played a high level of tennis in the first set and a half, and even though the scoreline was 6-0, 3-0 there were many games that went to deuce,’ Sharapova said.

‘She had a few break points and long games on her serve,’ the Russian added, saying Kerber was probably lacking fitness at the end of a long season.

‘The schedule takes its toll on everyone. It’s a normal process. If you feel like it’s too bad, you’ve got to take care of it.’

Azarenka, from Belarus, maintained her scintillating form, dismissing Romina Oprandi 6-2, 6-0.

‘It’s never easy to go in the tennis court and win the match even though the score was like this,’ Azarenka, 23, said.

‘It’s important to stay tough and have that concentration to make sure that you can win every ball and every point. I felt like I was playing well, but it wasn’t easy,’ she added.

In the men’s draw Chinese wildcard Zhang Ze’s impressive run came to an end when he suffered a straight-sets defeat to Germany’s Florian Mayer in the quarter-finals.

The 22-year-old, ranked 165th in the world, made history in the last 16 when he became the first Chinese man ever to beat a top 20 player, dumping out France’s Richard Gasquet.

But matching Pan’s 17-year-old mark proved a step too far for the right-hander from Nanjing, with world number 29 Mayer winning 6-3, 6-4.

Third seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-2.


ANDY MURRAY TO MEET RAONIC IN SEMIFINAL

Defending champion and top-seeded Andy Murray moved into the semifinals of the Japan Open with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over seventh-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland on Friday.

Playing in his first tournament since winning the US Open last month, Murray scored a comprehensive victory over the Swiss with a powerful forehand and some fine volleys.

Murray will play sixth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada in the semifinals on Saturday. Raonic outlasted third-seeded Janko Tipsarevic 6-7, 6-2, 7-6.

Tomas Berdych will take on local favourite Kei Nishikori, in another quarterfinal, while Marcos Baghdatis will meet Dmitry Tursunov.
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