Li Na put an end to Agnieszka Radwanska’s 13-match win streak Tuesday, winning 7-5, 6-3 to advance to her third Australian Open semifinal in four years, where she’ll face Maria Sharapova. The match wasn’t as straightforward as the score might indicate. The two shared 10 breaks of serve. Radwanska threw in her messiest performance of the year, hitting 21 unforced errors to just 10 winners. Li took advantage of her scratchy form to steal the first set before her game finally clicked in the second.
The breaks came fast and furious thanks in large part to shanks like the video above. Playing the first match on Rod Laver Arena, Li struggled with the sun and fired one right into the crowd.
Channel 7′s Sam Smith replayed the footage for Li after the match. Li’s quick wit set up a day of funny media moments for the woman considered the best interview in tennis.
“I wanna have good communication with the fans,” she said, to the delight of the Aussie crowd. “OK, Carlos, be sure we’re practicing the serve,” directing her comments to coach Carlos Rodriguez.
Li spent most of the day satisfying heavy media obligations, which is good news because, as ESPN’s Darren Cahill observed, a Li Na interview is not to be missed.
Here are a few more of her best moments:
• In her press conference, Li recounted her husband’s incredulous reaction to her fitness program under Rodriguez during the offseason. These two need their own TV show:
“When first time I was training with him I was so exciting, but after three days I was dying. Yeah, because my husband didn’t come with me in Beijing. I call him and say, ‘Carlos is crazy.’ He was like, ‘Why?’ I was say the program to him. He was like, ‘Don’t make the joke.’ I say, ‘Hey, listen, I’m not joke. I really doing this in the morning.’ He said, ‘OK, OK, I will come to you next day.’
So next day he was in Beijing. I was doing some exercise with Carlos. He was sitting in the gym. After halfway, he was like, ‘Are you finished?’ I said, ‘No, only halfway.’ He said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Really, yes. I do this for three days already.’ He said, ‘I’m tired.’ I say, ‘Don’t say that. I’m doing exercises, you’re only sitting. Don’t say you’re tired.’”
• Li then made her way to the players’ cafe and barbecued some prawns.
• Li shares her IMG agent, Max Eisenbud, with Sharapova. Asked who Eisenbud would be rooting for in the semifinals, Li quipped, “I think Max just eat sugar and be somewhere else.” Her jokes about Sharapova’s Sugarpova candy line didn’t end there. Over on the ESPN set, Patrick McEnroe asked her if she might want to start her own candy line in China. Li brought the focus back on her agent’s waistline.
“The problem is after Max get all the candy you think he got more weight?”