17 Jan 2014

Li Na survives scare on day five in Melbourne

News Article

Photo: Paul ZimmerLi Na (CHN)

China's Li Na survived a scare against Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova in the third round of the Australian Open on Friday.

Last year's runner-up and this year's No. 4 seed saved a match point in the second set before racing back to win 16 76(2) 63 in two hours and 37 minutes on another hot day in Melbourne.

Safarova went for a winner on match point and missed the corner of the court by a fraction.

"I think the five centimetres saved my tournament," said Li Na. "If she hit in, whole team on the way to the airport! 

"At least I win the match, so still in the tournament. I was really happy the way is fight on the court from first point until the last point." 

Another player who will be delighted with her performance at this year's Australian Open is home-grown Casey Dellacqua.

The 28-year-old from Perth is through to the round of 16 at a Grand Slam for just the second time in her career after defeating Zheng Jie 62 64.

It has been six years since Dellacqua made the last 16 at the Australian Open and she was understandably delighted to be there.

"It feels great to be back here," she said. "Obviously I made the fourth round here in '08. I definitely feel like a different person, different player at this point in my career. 

"I've had to work really hard and I'm a little bit older and a bit more mature and able to take everything in a bit more. Definitely feel like a better player tenniswise now than probably back in '08. Played some really good matches over the last week."

The Australian will meet Eugenie Bouchard, who on her debut at Melbourne Park has become the first Canadian woman to reach the round of 16 Down Under since 1999.

At 19 years of age, Bouchard is a real prospect for the future and she has endeared herself to the Australian fans who call themselves The Genie Army and sing songs and give her gifts at the end of the match.

"We'll see if my Genie Army stays at my side," said Bouchard. "I love them. Their songs are getting stuck in my head because they're singing them so much. It's fun to have that extra support and it's motivating.

"I'm playing an Australian in Australia. Regardless, there's going to be a really good atmosphere on the court no matter what."

World No. 1 Serena Williams continued her dominance in the women's draw and in defeating No. 31 seed Daniela Hantuchova 63 63 she set a new record for the most match-wins at the Australian Open with 61 victories at Melbourne Park.

The American will meet No. 14 seed Ana Ivanovic in the round of 16 after the Serbian ended Sam Stosur's hopes of winning her home major with a comeback victory in the night match on Rod Laver Arena.

There were also wins for Angelique Kerber against Alison Riske; Flavia Pennetta against Mona Barthel; and Ekaterina Makarova against Monica Niculescu.

In the men's draw, there was only one major upset on day five, as No. 20 seed Jerzy Janowicz fell to Germany's Florian Mayer 75 62 62. The big-hitting Pole is making his return from back surgery so won't be too upset with a third-round finish in Australia.

There were routine victories for No. 3 seed David Ferrer and No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych against Jeremy Chardy and Damir Dzumhur respectively. Dzumhur was a member of the ITF International 18 & Under Team to North Africa in 2009, supported by the Grand Slam Development Fund. He also received ITF/GSDF travel grants for junior events in 2009 and Futures events in 2011.

Ferrer and Berdych remain on course to meet in the quarterfinals, but the former will face Mayer in the round of 16 while the latter will meet Kevin Anderson after the South African No. 19 seed battled back from two sets down for the second time this tournament against Edouard Roger-Vasselin to win 36 46 63 76(5) 75.

Tommy Robredo maintained his fine Grand Slam form with an upset of No. 9 seed Richard Gasquet 26 75 64 76(6) and will meet Stanislas Wawrinka in the round of 16 after the Swiss was given a walkover by Vasek Pospisil.

Novak Djokovic looked every ounce the four-time Australian Open champion with a comfortable 63 63 64 victory over Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin in the last match on Rod Laver Arena on Friday.

The defending champion will play No. 15 seed Fabio Fognini after the Italian defeated Sam Querrey 75 64 64 in a rain-delayed third round match on Friday night.

The ITF produces men's match notes at the Australian Open. For a full list of the notes please click here.