Tough words from coach helped me into semis: Li

Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:45pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - China's Li Na allowed herself a small smile of satisfaction after she advanced to her fourth Australian Open semi-final on Tuesday, mindful that an inquisition from coach Carlos Rodriguez earlier in the tournament had helped her get there.

The 31-year-old, who has reached two of the last three finals at Melbourne Park, blasted the 28th-seeded Flavia Pennetta off the court with a 6-2 6-2 win on Tuesday with a strong first serve and barrage of powerful ground strokes.

That 66-minute performance, however, had its roots in a third round clash with Lucie Safarova, when the Czech ran the fourth seed all around the court and held a match point before Li scraped to a 1-6 7-6 (2) 6-3 victory in two hours, 27 minutes.

"He didn't tell me what I should do. He just asked me 'what do you want? Why you do this?'" Li told reporters of what Rodriguez had said to her after the Safarova clash.

"After three questions, I was feeling he was already punching me down already. So I was like, 'okay, I should do something'.

"So that's why I start next day to prepare (for the rest of the tournament). I try to do what I say, because before I always promising, I will try to do, I will try to do, but I never do.

"I think this is why (my play) turn around."

HARD HITTERS

One of the harder hitters on tour, Li's groundstrokes were sublime on Tuesday as she painted the tramlines and controlled the pace of the match from the baseline.   Continued...

 
Li Na of China hits a return to Flavia Pennetta of Italy during their women's quarter-final tennis match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 21, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic