Dominika Cibulkova’s road to the final

Dominika Cibulkova

Round Opponent Score
R1 Francesca Schiavone 6-3 6-4
R2 Stefanie Voegele 6-0 6-1
R3 Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-0
R4 Maria Sharapova 3-6 6-4 6-1
QF Simona Halep 6-3 6-0
SF Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1 6-2

If 2011 French Open champion and 2-time Australian Open finalist Li Na was one of the favorite for the title, the presence of the diminutive Cibulkova in final was all but expected.
Ranked 24, her best result at a Grand Slam so far had been a semi-final at Roland Garros in 2009.

Cibulkova has won all but one of her matches in straight sets, including three in one hour or less. She is looking to become the first player outside the top 10 since Serena Williams seven years ago to win in Melbourne Park.

Li Na’s road to the final

Li Na

Round Opponent Score
R1 Ana Konjuh 6-2 6-0
R2 Belinda Bencic 6-0 7-6
R3 Lucie Safarova 1-6 7-6 6-3
R4 Elena Makarova 6-2 6-0
QF Flavia Pennetta 6-2 6-2
SF Eugenie Bouchard 6-2 6-4

Li Na has reached the Australian Open final for the third time in four years: she lost to Kim Clijsters in 2011, a few months before capturing her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros; and she was defeated by Victoria Azarenka in another thrilling match last year.

Li Na was pushed to the brink in the third round by Lucie Safarova, who had a match point to win in straight sets. An unforced error by Safarova allowed the world number four, back into the match and the tournament.

Li Na – Dominika Cibulkova head to head
Year Tournament Surface Winner Score
2008 Antwerp Carpet Li Na 6-4 6-3
2010 Madrid Clay Li Na 6-2 3-6 7-5
2012 Rome Clay Li Na 6-1 7-6(4)
2013 Toronto Hard Li Na 7-6(1) 6-2

Li Na appears as the huge favorite of this final: she’ll play her fourth major final overall and Cibulkova only managed to win a set in their four previous meetings.

Who will win between Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova? Please share your thoughts.

Photo credit: Ben Solomon/Tennis Australia

Dominika Cibulkova defeats Simona Halep 6-3 6-0

The Slovakian continues her impressive run and qualifies for the second Grand Slam semifinal of her career, after Roland Garros in 2009.

Agnieszka Radwanska defeats Victoria Azarenka 6-1 5-7 6-0

What a demonstration of skills by Radwanska who ousted defending champion Azarenka to reach her first semifinal in Melbourne.
Azarenka struggled to cope with Radwanska’s anticipation and sublime touch. If she produces that same high quality tennis against Cibulkova, the Wimbledon 2012 finalist will start favourite in the final, whoever she faces.

Rafael Nadal defeats Grigor Dimitrov 3-6 7-6(3) 7-6(7) 6-2

The world number 1 struggled to defeat Kei Nishikori in the previous round and he struggled again to get past Baby Fed, Grigor Dimitrov.
After half an hour Nadal was already one set down but he raised his level and won the second set on tiebreak. Two big forehand errors when Dimitrov had Nadal at his mercy cost him the third set tiebreak and then the match. Nadal will play on Friday his fourth Melbourne semifinal, which his 22nd Grand Slam semifinal overall.

Roger Federer defeats Andy Murray 6-3 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3

For the first time in a Slam we could have an all-Swiss final. But first, Wawrinka would have to beat 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, and Federer would have to find a way past Nadal, who he hasn’t beaten in a Slam since Wimbledon 2007.
Andy Murray showed an encouraging performance in the Australian Open, a few months after his back surgery. It bodes well for him for the rest of the season.

Building on 2010′s stunning RM027 Tourbillon, watchmaker Richard Mille has unveiled his latest timepiece for tennis star Rafael Nadal: the RM 35-01.

Nadal’s latest signature watch will be available in the near future at an undisclosed price from select Mille dealers.

Richard mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal

Richard Mille Rafael Nadal watch

Richard mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal

Richard mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal

Via Hypebeast

Li Na defeats Flavia Pennetta 6-2 6-2

A routine win for the two time Australian Open finalist who appears now as the big favorite for the title along with defending champion Victoria Azarenka.
Li Na saved a match point in her third round match against Lucie Safarova and now there seems to be no stopping her.

Eugenie Bouchard defeats Ana Ivanovic 5-7 7-5 6-2

Bittersweet tournament for Ana Ivanovic who follows a terrific win over Serena Williams with a loss to 19 yr old Eugenie Bouchard.
Bouchard, who entered the match as the underdog, showed she could face the pressure and will play Li Na in the semifinals. In their only previous meeting, the Chinese beat the Canadian in straight sets.

Tomas Berdych defeats David Ferrer 6-1 6-4 2-6 6-4

Win his win over Ferrer, Tomas Berdych is now part of a small group of champions to have made semifinal appearances at all four Grand Slam tournaments. Surprisingly it was also his first victory ever on Rod Laver arena.
After winning the first two sets quite easily, Berdych lost his focus, allowing the Spaniard to come back in the match. He took advantage of Ferrer‘s many errors in the fourth set to advance to the semifinals.

Stanislas Wawrinka defeats Novak Djokovic 2-6 6-4 6-2 3-6 9-7

The match of the tournament so far. For the third consecutive Grand Slam meeting, Stan Wawrinka and three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic played five sets. And this time, after 14 loses in a row to the Serbian, the Swiss prevailed.
Djokovic suffered his first loss since the US Open final, when he was beaten by Rafael Nadal. He had gone on to win 28 matches in a row, lifting trophies in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and London.

Another day another huge upset in the women’s draw: yesterday Serena Williams was defeated by Ana Ivanovic and today it was Maria Sharapova’s turn: Sharapova was ousted by 20th seed Dominika Cibulkova.
No problem for Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska who proved too strong for Sloane Stephens and Garbine Muguruza.

In men’s action, Rafael Nadal struggled to get past Kei Nishikori as a rejuvenated Roger Federer made a quick work of Australian Open 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Stat of the day: 11

Roger Federer will make his 11th straight Australian Open appearance

Tweet of the day: Nadal’s shoelace

 

Matches to follow on Day 9:

Li Na (4) – Flavia Pennetta (28)
Eugenie Bouchard (30) – Ana Ivanovic (14)
David Ferrer (3) – Tomas Berdych (7)
Stanislas Wawrinka (8) – Novak Djokovic (2)