No. 20 seed Dominika Cilbulkova continued her fairytale run Thursday reaching her first career Grand Slam final after thumping a listless fifth-seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-2. Cibulkova, one of the shortest Grand Slam finalists in history at just 5-foot-3, will meet 2-time Australian Open runner-up Li Na in the Saturday final.
“I’m playing really, really well, giving 100% of what I’m capable to do on the court in the match,” Cibulkova said.
The 24-year-old from the Slovak Republic has entered the match off of upsets over former champion Maria Sharapova on Monday and yesterday she knocked out Simona Halep.
“It is nice for me,” she said. “I didn’t spend so much time on the court. I’m playing in Grand Slam, you know. I’m in the finals of Grand Slam. The only three set match was against Sharapova. That’s something unbelievable.”
Radwanska who had beaten Cibulkova 6-0, 6-0 last year in the Sydney final, said she had nothing left for today after the big three-set win Wednesday over 2-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka.
“l, I think I feel like in slow motion today,” said Radwanska who was playing in his first Australian Open semi. “I had a couple tough matches, especially yesterday.
“When I played very tough match, very high level yesterday, playing the next day is always tough. Of course I knew I was the second half playing so of course I wouldn’t have a day off. In that case, that day off would be really a lot for me.”
Li Na also won in straight sets, but it was a struggle. After racing out to a 5-0 lead, the 19-year-old Bouchard got her teeth into the match winning four of the next five games before eventually falling 6-2, 6-4.
“I think I played very well at the beginning of the match,” Li said. “The second set was a little bit tight, because I was feeling like maybe I already had one foot in the final, but she also played so well.
“I just kept trying to play point by point because the match still had to continue.”
Li, who had saved a matchpoint in her third round match against Lucie Safarova, will bid for her second Grand Slam title after losses in the 2011 final to Kim Clijsters and last year to Azarenka.
“It’s my third time in the final here, so I think I’m getting pretty close to the trophy,” Li said. “At least I’ll try not to fall down this time, because last year in the final I thought I was playing well but I can only say I was unlucky because I was falling down twice. This time I’ll try to enjoy it and stay healthy.”
The breakout star Bouchard had one of her best career weeks in this her Australian Open debut.
“I wouldn’t say I exceeded my expectations, but I’m happy with how I did,” said Bouchard who’ll crack the Top 20 on Monday. “I always want to do better. To me it’s not a surprise. I’ve been working hard my whole life to do this, to play at Grand Slams and do well. It’s not an overnight thing and it’s not a surprise to me.
“I’m just going to go back to the practice courts and keep working hard.”
The 31-year-old Li Na has won all four career meetings with Cibulkova. This will be there first meeting at a Grand Slam.
“She been in the finals of Grand Slam many times,” Cibulkova said. “She already won a Grand Slam, so she know how it is. I’m playing finals, so that’s something beautiful. It’s like a dream. So I will go just out there and play my best, try to do my best.”
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