AO Tuesday: Li & Ana Seek SF Spots
Published January 20, 2014 12:11
MELBOURNE, Australia - Li Na will do battle with fellow 31-year-old Flavia Pennetta on Tuesday at the Australian Open, while Ana Ivanovic seeks to follow up her memorable defeat of Serena Williams with another over Eugenie Bouchard.
Rod Laver Arena
 Li Na (CHN #4) vs.  Flavia Pennetta (ITA #29)
Head-to-head: Tied 2-2
Last year en route to a runner-up showing, Li Na became the first 30-and-older player to reach at least the semifinals here in 25 years. Well, regardless of who wins her tilt with Flavia Pennetta, who turns 32 next month a day before Li does, there will be a 30+ Australian Open semifinalist for the second straight year.
The series between the two dates all the way back to an ITF Women's Circuit match in 2000 and interestingly enough, all three of their WTA-level meetings have occurred in Australia. Coming into their first contest at a major, both players have exhibited impressive play in their recent Grand Slam outings. Li has made the quarterfinals of a major for the third straight time for the first time in her career and is looking to improve to 4-0 in Australian Open quarterfinals. Pennetta's best Grand Slam showing occurred at her last major with a semifinal run at the 2013 US Open. A victory would be her 11th over a Top 5 foe and would make her the first Italian to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open.
"She's one of the best players," Pennetta said of Li. "Her backhand is unbelievable. Her forehand is really good. Physically, she's strong. She is so good."
 Ana Ivanovic (SRB #14) vs.  Eugenie Bouchard (CAN #31)
Head-to-head: Bouchard leads 1-0
Ana Ivanovic will try to avoid a letdown against Eugenie Bouchard after recording arguably the most memorable win of her career against World No.1 Serena Williams in the fourth round. Now 9-0 on the season, 2008 Australian Open runner-up Ivanovic is looking to improve to 5-2 in Grand Slam quarterfinals and is seeking her first semifinal berth since she captured her lone Grand Slam title at the 2008 French Open.
Bouchard is making her Australian Open main draw debut and is playing just her fourth Grand Slam main draw yet is already making her first Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance. The lone teenager left in the draw, Bouchard is the first Canadian to reach the Australian Open quarters since Carling Bassett-Seguso in 1983 and the first to do so at any major since Patricia Hy-Boulais at the 1992 US Open. A triumph over Ivanovic, whom she beat fairly routinely at Wimbledon last year, would make her the first Canadian to ever make the Australian Open semifinals and would result in her cracking the Top 20.
"I think I played well in that match," Bouchard said of her lone previous encounter with Ivanovic. "I'm going to talk to my coach about tactical things to do against her. But I'm feeling confident. I feel like I'm playing well. It's going to be a battle. I'm just going to try to be aggressive, and I know she will too, so I'll be ready for that."