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Li downs Sharapova to roll into Aussie final

11:40 PM, Jan 23, 2013   |    comments
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Melbourne, Australia (Sports Network) - China's sixth seed Li Na rolled into the Australian Open final with a dominant 6-2, 6-2 victory over second-seeded Russian Maria Sharapova on Thursday.

Li hit 21 winners and took advantage of reigning French Open champion Sharapova's 32 unforced errors and six double faults to advance to her second Aussie Open final in three years.

Li lost the 2011 final to Kim Clijsters in three sets.

Li opened the first set with a break, and then held serve with an unforced error on Sharapova to jump ahead, 2-0.

The two held serve from there until they battled through several deuces during Sharapova's turn at the line, leading to Li earning her second break of the match with a hard forehand winner down the line for a 4-1 lead.

Sharapova answered with her lone break of the match, but was eventually done in by 17 unforced errors in the first set.

The first break of the second set saw Li take a 3-2 edge before she snapped a deuce with a pair of hard serves Sharapova could not handle on her ensuing try to gain a two-game advantage.

Li's second break of the set then gave her a chance to serve for the match, and she converted when Sharapova's return of a second serve ripped into the net to advance.

Sharapova entered the match having not dropped a single set and losing just nine games overall in her previous five matches at this event.

Thursday's other semifinal matchup will see 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens face off against world No. 1 and defending champion Victoria Azarenka.

The Sports Network

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