|After defeat to Djokovic, Federer’s search for an elusive 17th Grand Slam title continues [GALLO/GETTY]|
China’s Li Na has become the first Asian player to reach a Grand Slam singles final, with victory over Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open
She will play Belgium’s Kim Clijsters, the world number three, who powered past the challenge of Vera Zvonareva in straight sets.
Meanwhile, in the men’s draw, defending champion Roger Federer was beaten in straight sets by 2008 winner Novak Djokovic.
Li, on the back of her Sydney International victory before the tournament started, struggled initially, with Wozniacki dominating play and taking the first set.
The Dane held match point late in the second set, but after saving it, Li could do no wrong.
The Chinese ninth seed beat the world number one 3-6 7-5 6-3, repeating her victory from their 2010 Australian Open match.
Li will be buoyed by the knowledge that she defeated Clijsters handily in the final of Sydney.
Wozniacki reflected: “I had a match point and I didn’t take it … Sometimes in matches or in tennis it’s one ball that can change everything.”
The pair exchanged five consecutive breaks of serve in the final set, before Li held her nerve to serve out the match.
Despite promising a tight, tense affair, the match between Clijsters and Zvonareva failed to ignite, with the latter struggling throughout.
In a clash reminiscent of the 2010 US Open final, Clijsters eased past her Russian opponent 6-3 6-3.
It was a surprisingly easy victory, and ended Zvonareva’s run of two consecutive Grand Slam finals.
The fear for Zvonareva now lies with the knowledge that another multiple Grand Slam finalist, fellow countrywoman Dinara Safina, has plummeted to outside the top 100 in the world.
This dip in form is likely to be connected to a loss of confidence, a condition Zvonareva is no stranger to.
Clijsters, however, is possibly in even better form than in her previous career.
The former world number one, who will move to number two regardless of the final result, has won two Grand Slams since her return to the tour.
Most commentators see the Belgian as favourite, despite the recent loss to Li.
Although known to suffer with nerves herself, it is difficult to see how the 2004 runner-up will fail to add an Australian Open title to her three US Open victories.
Roger Federer, however, will still be searching for his elusive 17th Grand Slam title.
In a match of mind-boggling talent, he was beaten 7-6 7-5 6-4 by an inspired Djokovic.
It’s his second successive semi-final win over the world number two, after beating him at the same stage at the US Open.
The result will mean the final will not contain either Federer or Rafael Nadal, who was beaten by David Ferrer in the quarter finals, for the first time since the 2008 final.
That match saw Djokovic win his first, and so far only, Grand Slam, and the Serb is in a good position to repeat the feat.
There were no breaks of serve throughout the first set, but it was Djokovic who made the breakthrough in the tie break, wining it 7-3.
The pair exchanged breaks at the start of the second set, before the Swiss star looked to have wrapped it up, breaking for a 5-2 lead.
But he failed to serve out the set, and Djokovic won five games in a row to take the second set.
After breaking to lead 5-4, after nearly three hours, Djokovic bravely served out the match on his third match point.
“Clearly it’s disappointing to lose, but what to do if he plays well on the big points, and potentially maybe I didn’t. It was a tough match,” said Federer.
The final will see the world number three face either Andy Murray or Ferrer, who play on Friday night.
Djokovic holds winning records against both players, although he has lost his last three to the Brit.
Whatever the outcome, the Serb looks to be joining Nadal and Federer as a Grand Slam final regular.
And maybe it’s time to add to his title collection.