Li Na reaches semifinals at Indian Wells

Updated: 2014-03-14 10:39 (Agencies)

Li Na reaches semifinals at Indian Wells

Li Na of China during her quarterfinal match against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Indian Wells, March 13, 2014. Li won 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. [Photo/Agencies]

INDIAN WELLS, California - Li Na beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 Thursday in a rematch of their Australian Open final, moving the Chinese star into her second semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open since 2007.

Li Na reaches semifinals at Indian Wells
All about Li Na
Li, who beat Cibulkova to win her second Grand Slam title in January, dropped her first set in four matches while improving to 15-1 this year. Li is playing her first major tournament as the No 1 seed.

"Not like before if I come here, maybe like No 6 or No 7 seed," she said. "But I am handling very well, so just continue."

Flavia Pennetta of Italy will face Li in semifinals after beating Sloane Stephens of the US late Thursday. No 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and Simona Halep of Romania meet in the other semifinal on Friday.

Li rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the second set to close to 5-4 before Cibulkova called for her coach. After they huddled, the Slovak held to even the match at a set apiece.

They traded breaks to open the third. Cibulkova survived a service game that went to deuce seven times and staved off four break points to tie it up 2-2.

"I'm disappointed I didn't win because I had my chances. These are chances you have to take with such a player," Cibulkova said. "My serve was just not there. Maybe I tried to go for too much. Her serve was much better than mine."

Li's ace gave her a 4-3 lead as she swept to the final three games and the victory.

Since adding the Australian crown to the French Open title she won in 2011, Li's popularity continues to grow. She has 10 million fans on Chinese social media, and she has noticed the increased attention at Indian Wells.

"Even like practicing the fans were watching," she said. "But I think I find more fans supporting my husband, not for me. Even we are practicing, working out, if he hit a winner, everyone was like so happy."

In the men's quarterfinals, Alexandr Dolgopolov beat Milos Raonic 6-3, 6-4, ensuring the Ukrainian will rise to a projected No 23 in next week's ATP Tour rankings. Already, he has made the biggest jump in the top 50, moving up 26 spots since the end of last year to No 31 before the tournament.

Dolgopolov faces a semifinal against either Roger Federer or Kevin Anderson, who played later. Dolgopolov improved to 6-2 against top-20 opponents this year, including his third-round win over top-ranked Rafael Nadal.

Raonic took out fourth-ranked Andy Murray in three sets in the fourth round, but he couldn't follow it up win a win over Dolgopolov in their first meeting.


Li Na reaches semifinals at Indian Wells


Li Na reaches semifinals at Indian Wells


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