Li Na battled more than two and a half hours to get past Dominika Cibulkova in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open, a rematch of their Australian Open final.
WTA Staff

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - It was much closer - three grueling sets - but Li Na edged Dominika Cibulkova in a rematch of their Australian Open final in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open.

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While Li was a runaway winner in the second set of that match in Melbourne - she won there, 76(3) 60 - this one was far different. After winning the first set, 6-3, Li watched on as Cibulkova only seemed to get stronger, storming out to a 5-1 lead in the second set and eventually taking the set, 6-4.

Cibulkova even went up a break early in the third set and, after Li broke back, the No.12-seeded Slovak held double break point with Li serving at 3-all. But the No.1-seeded Chinese brought out her best right when it mattered most, winning 12 of 16 points from there to cross the finish line, 63 46 63.

"Here was different than Australia - of course the score should be different, but today she played more aggressive," Li said. "I felt like if I stepped back a bit she would step into the balls more, and in the second set my level dropped and it gave her the chances, and she was getting a lot of winners in.

"I think there's still a little bit of a problem with my level staying the same from beginning to end, but it's good information, and I'll take it and just try to improve my tennis for the next day and next match."

The post-match numbers showed Li was the clear aggressor during the match, not only hitting twice as many winners as Cibulkova (32 to 16) but also more unforced errors (59 to 51). Both of their winners-to-unforced errors differentials were in the negatives, but Li's -27 was healthier than Cibulkova's -35.

Li also continued her mastery over Cibulkova - she is now 6-0 lifetime against the Slovak.

Cibulkova was asked about her feelings towards the match in her post-match press conference.

"I'm just disappointed that I didn't win, because I had my chances today," Cibulkova said. "I was 1-0 up on my serve in the third set and had one or two balls for 2-0, and it could have been a different story. I also had break chances at 3-all. These are the chances you have to take against a player like her.

"It makes me a little sad, but at least I won a set, and I had more chances than I did in Australia."

The Chinese is now through to the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open for the second time in her career. She was a semifinalist in 2007, falling to Daniela Hantuchova - who went on to win the title.