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Sharapova, Li reach Aussie final four

8:19 AM, Jan 22, 2013   |    comments
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Melbourne, Australia (Sports Network) - Former champion Maria Sharapova and former runner-up Li Na were a pair of quarterfinal winners Tuesday at the Australian Open.

The second-seeded former world No. 1 Sharapova eased past 19th-seeded fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2 to set up a semifinal match with the 2011 Aussie finalist Li.

With the first set tied at 2-2, Sharapova earned her second break of the match following a Makarova double fault and powered her way through the next three games to take the set with a second-serve ace.

Sharapova then dominated the second set with 10 winners before finishing off Makarova with another emphatic ace.

The 25-year-old Sharapova, who has been dominant through her first five matches of this fortnight, is the reigning Roland Garros champion who lost to Victoria Azarenka in last year's Aussie finale. The Russian superstar titled here in 2008, and was also a Melbourne runner-up in 2007.

The sixth-seeded Li lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in a semifinal in Sydney two weeks ago, but the former French Open champion from China avenged that defeat on Tuesday by ousting the fourth-seeded Radwanska, who had not lost a set in 2013 until succumbing to Li 7-5, 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena.

Li broke Radwanska's serve four times in the opening set. Radwanska, who earned three breaks herself, saved one set point at 5-6, but misfired wide left on the next point and hit the final ball of the 66-minute first set into the net.

The 30-year-old Li, who has not lost a set this tournament, broke at love to take a 4-2 lead in the second set, and saved two break points leading 5-3 in the second before Radwanska was long on a match point.

Radwanska was seeking her third title in three events this season.

Wednesday's quarterfinals will pit the world No. 1 and defending champion Azarenka against two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and third-seeded former No. 1 and five-time Aussie titlist Serena Williams versus 29th-seeded fellow American Sloane Stephens.

The Sports Network

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