Li Na defeats Cibulkova, plays Pennetta in Indian Wells semis

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Flavia Pennetta


The two quarter final matches in the top half of the draw at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells were played on Thursday. In the first, top seeded Na Li took on the challenge of Dominika Cibulkova, the 11th seed. The last time these two players met was in the Australian Open final this year, when Li won 7-6 6-0.  Both players had a byes in the first round, with Li then not meeting a seed and winning her next two matches in straights. Cibulkova won in straights in her second round match, then won 6-1 6-7 6-0 against Alexandra Wozniak in the third round before easily taking out 8th seed Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-2 in the 4th round.

In this semi, the Slovak put up a much greater fight than she did in Melbourne. Li took the first set 6-3 but the Slovak fought in her typical style to lead 5-1 before sealing the second set at 6-4. In the decider the players continued the force long and tight games and got to 3-3, before Li pulled away and took the last three games for victory after two hours and thirty three minutes of great tennis.

The second quarter final under the lights was no less exciting. Both 20th seeded Flavia Pennetta and Sloane Stephens had byes in the first round, with Stephens losing just four games in her second round match before going on to beat 11th seed Ana Ivanovic and Alisa Kleybanova also in straights. Pennetta’s route was via a tough three setter against Taylor Townsend in the second round and another three setter against 16th seeded Sam Stosur,

The Italian took the first set 6-4 and got an early break in the second to lead 5-4 but faltered when serving for the match and let the American take the next three games and the set at 7-5. Stephens, on a roll, took the first three games of the decider – and a point for 4-0 – before Pennetta went up a gear and allowed the America just one more game before taking the set at 6-4 after an hour and twenty six minutes on court.

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