Caroline Wozniacki vs Li Na Preview - Australian Open semifinal match starts soon

Na Li. (credit: Wikipedia.org)
Anyone that doesn't think Na Li has a chance in this match hasn't been following tennis.

This match is scheduled to start as early as 9:30pm ET on Wednesday night in North America; that's 1:30pm Thursday in Australia.

Caroline Wozniacki and Na Li are due to meet in the semifinals of the 2011 Australian Open, a match that is scheduled for Day 11. Wozniacki enters the match as the world number 1, a ranking that will be protected post-Australian Open simply due to her semifinal appearance in Melbourne.
 
Na Li, China's best player, enters the match as the 11th ranked player on tour and she is into her second straight Australian Open semifinal.

Li, some may be surprised to learn, is the favorite to win the match according to the sportsbooks (ie. bet365).  However those that follow tennis closely, and by that mean outside of the Grand Slams, shouldn't be too surprised to learn that the betting trends appear to be in Li's favor.

Li holds a 2-1 edge over Wozniacki in terms of head to head matches. That record includes their two most recent matches, both from 2010, where Li defeated the Dane on the hard courts in Sydney and in the 4th round of Melbourne Park last year.

When you take a close look at Na Li and what she has accomplished in the last year and a half in Grand Slams a noticeable trend sticks out. Generally speaking, Li has only lost Grand Slam matches to players that eventually went on to win the whole tournament.

It usually takes a talented player who is on-form to beat Na Li in a Grand Slam match as the following historical results prove.

At the 2009 US Open, Li lost to eventual champion Kim Clijsters in the quarterfinals. Last year at Melbourne Li lost to eventual champion Serena Williams in the semis. At the 2011 French Open it was Francesca Schiavone, eventual champion, who defeated Li in a third round match. Then at Wimbledon 2010 it was Williams again who defeated Li en route to the title.

The 2010 US Open is a blip in that trend as Kateryna Bonderenko took Li out in what was genuinely a shocking upset. However if Li were to beat Wozniacki in the semis, while some might call it a shocker just because the Dane gets more media attention, those who have been paying attention will realize that a Grand Slam final is right where Li belongs - and she could win it.

But Wozniacki's credentials, as the top player in the world, are also clear and the Li versus Wozniacki match is exactly what a Grand Slam semifinal match should be: two formidable tennis forces meeting in a match that they both want badly.

For Li, a player who will be 29 next month, the hour is late and opportunities to win a match of this magnitude will soon be at a premium. For Wozniacki this is just her third crack at a Grand Slam semifinal and she's likely to be back to this stage of a draw many more times.

The winner gets either Vera Zvonareva or Kim Clijsters in another match that looks like it will be fiercely contested.

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Caroline Wozniacki vs Li Na Preview - Australian Open semifinal match starts soon

Anyone that doesn't think Na Li has a chance in this match hasn't been following tennis.

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