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Tennis: Bitter experience has Li wary of Cibulkova

Li Na has bitter experience of losing Australian Open finals and she is fired up to go one better against Dominika Cibulkova on Saturday -- but the Chinese trailblazer is taking nothing for granted. While the world number four is the clear favourite to win a second Grand Slam crown against the Slovak, courtesy of being 20 places higher in the rankings, she knows anything can happen on the day. "It is the third time, so pretty close to the trophy," Li said, having made the final twice before, in 2011 and 2013, and lost after leading each time.

Tennis: China's Li zeroes in on second Slam title

China's Li Na moved tantalisingly close to her first Australian Open title Thursday, as Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka finally stepped out of the great Roger Federer's shadow by reaching the men's final. Li, 31, halted future superstar Eugenie Bouchard to reach her third Melbourne final in four attempts, giving herself a magnificent chance of clinching a second Grand Slam title.

Wawrinka reaches first final, Li to meet Cibulkova

By Nick Mulvenney MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Stanislas Warwinka edged Tomas Berdych in the tightest of duels to reach his first grand slam final at the 36th attempt on Thursday and set up a possible all-Swiss Australian Open title showdown against Roger Federer. Federer will have to get past world number one Rafa Nadal in the second semi-final on Friday first, but 28-year-old Wawrinka did his part by the narrowest of margins with a 6-3 6-7(1) 7-6(3) 7-6(4) victory over the tall Czech.

Tennis: Impressive Li sweeps into Australian Open semis

China's Li Na demolished Flavia Pennetta as she swept impressively into the Australian Open semi-finals and a date with precocious teen star Eugenie Bouchard on Tuesday. As Tomas Berdych finally ended his Rod Laver Arena jinx with a four-sets win over David Ferrer, Li looked odds-on to reach a third Melbourne final after tearing past fellow veteran Pennetta. The Chinese world number four pummelled winners past the Italian as she broke five times and won 62 points to just 37 for her opponent in the 6-2, 6-2 victory.

Tennis: Off-key Li glad to see off young Swiss

Chinese fourth seed Li Na admitted she was not at the top of her game Wednesday after being forced to dig deep against teen qualifier Belinda Bencic at the Australian Open. With the temperature hitting 38 Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) before the pair even stepped on court at 11:00 am, Li was keen to get back in the air conditioning quickly but the promising Swiss kept her in the boiling sun for 80 minutes.

Media criticism nearly drove Li to retirement

By Ian Ransom MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Disillusionment with negative reporting in her home media nearly saw Li Na give up the game last year in the wake of her early French Open exit, the Chinese number one said at the Australian Open on Wednesday. Li, who won the 2011 French Open to become Asia's first grand slam singles winner, suffered the criticism after being bundled out in the second round at Roland Garros by American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Tennis: Beaten Wu says Chinese men getting closer

Wu Di said China's men were getting closer to winning their first ever Grand Slam match after he went down fighting at the Australian Open on Monday. Wu, who became the first Chinese man to play a Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne last year, pushed France's Kenny De Schepper before going down 7-5, 7-5, 7-6 (7/2). It meant more disappointment for Wu, who again earned his spot via a wildcard tournament in China and last year lost out over four sets against Croatia's Ivan Dodig.

Nadal chosen as L'Equipe's male athlete of the year

Paris, Dec 19 (EFE).- Spain's Rafael Nadal was named Thursday as male athlete of the year by French sports daily L'Equipe, while another tennis star, American Serena Williams, won the women's honor for the second straight year. Nadal, who was on hand for the awards gala in Paris, beat out Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, last year's winner; French soccer star Franck Ribery; and Formula One champ Sebastian Vettel, among others, for the L'Equipe Champion of Champions prize.

Tennis: No extra pressure for No 1 crunch match - Nadal

World number two Rafael Nadal said Friday he felt no extra pressure heading into a semi-final at the China Open which could see him return to the top of the men's rankings. The number two seed in Beijing staged an extraordinary comeback against Fabio Fognini in his quarter-final match to keep alive his hopes of unseating Novak Djokovic at the top spot. He will now have to beat Czech fourth seed Tomas Berdych in Saturday's match to return to the top for the first time since July 2011. "It's something that doesn't create me more pressure," Nadal said.

Tennis: Nadal, Li, Radwanska through in China

Rafael Nadal's bid to return to the top of the world rankings remained on course Wednesday as he progressed to the quarter-finals of the China Open, overcoming stubborn resistance from Philipp Kohlschreiber. The current world number two could return to the top spot for the first time since July 2011 if he reaches the final in Beijing, and he moved a step closer following his 6-4, 7-6(7/3) victory. But his German opponent ensured the second seed Spaniard had to dig deep to ensure his passage to the last eight in a game that lasted 1 hour 55 minutes.
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