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Australian Open Women's Day 11

By Chris Pike
23 January 2014 05:05PM EST

LI NA did as expected by advancing to her third Australian Open final on Thursday but Dominika Cibulkova was the surprise packet thrashing Agnieszka Radwanska to set up a tantalising Saturday night decider.

The women's semi finals for the 2014 Australian Open began on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday with two-time finalist Li Na taking on 19-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, and the experience of the Chinese 31-year-old came to the fore as she won 6-2, 6-4 in just an hour and 26 minutes.

She then awaited her opponent in Saturday night's final when world No. 5 from Poland Radwanska took to Rod Laver Arena to face 20th-seeded Slovak Cibulkova.

Cibulkova had already put together the most dominant fortnight of tennis of her career so far in Melbourne and then she turned it up another level with one of the very best defensive players in the world having no answer.

The 24-year-old became the first player from the Slovak Republic to win her way into a Grand Slam final with the crushing 6-1, 6-2 victory that took just an hour and 10 minutes.

That now sets up a final on Saturday night where a new Australian Open champion will be crowned with China's Li Na trying to win a second Grand Slam title, and first in Melbourne on her third attempt in a final while Cibulkova is in her first ever major final.

The pair have met four times previously on the WTA Tour with Li Na winning all four head-to-head matches but this will be their first ever clash in a Grand Slam, and it just happens to be in the final.

Bouchard had shown no signs through her first five victories in her breakout Grand Slam performance that she couldn’t handle the big stage, and she again wasn’t overawed in the semi-final, but her Chinese opponent had too much poise and experience in the big moments.

Li Na has already won two Australian Open semi finals and won a French Open title, so the occasion was nothing new for the 31-year-old and she put on perhaps her best performance of this year's Australian Open so far.

She had only dropped one set in the first five rounds to Lucie Safarova, but she saved her best for the semi-final with four aces, six breaks of serve, 11-of-14 net points and hitting a super 35 winners to 23 unforced on her way to the straight-sets win.

Bouchard might have been knocked out by the woman 12 years her senior, but she without doubt will get plenty more chances in Grand Slam semi finals.

Having already beaten the likes of Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep, Francesca Schiavone and Carla Suarez Navarro on the way to her second Grand Slam semi-final appearance, Cibulkova came out playing inspired tennis against her higher-ranked opponent.

Radwanska was right off her game from the outset hitting an uncharacteristic 15 unforced errors in the first set alone while having her serve broken three times, but it was Cibulkova making all the running.

The Slovak raced through the first set in just 37 minutes conceding just the one game.

The expected fight back from Radwanska never eventuated in the second set with her fate sealed when she had a chance to break serve for the first time.

Cibulkova hit a second serve long, but it was called good and Radwanska didn’t challenge with the Slovak then going on to hold serve and then win the match by taking out the second set six games to two in just 33 minutes.

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