Even though Maria Sharapova had a 5-4 record against Na Li going into the quarterfinals at the Sony Ericsson Open, Li had been victorious their last four meetings. Thus, there was a revenge factor at play. Sharapova exacted her pound of flesh in dispatching the reigning French Open champion 6-3, 6-0 to get to the semifinals for the second successive season.
For Li, this was a third quarterfinal showing while Sharapova had been a finalist three previous times in South Florida including last year. With mistakes upon mistakes, neither player could hold serve the initial five games.
Ahead 3-2, Sharapova finally maintained serve to consolidate. The Russian then went on to break Li a fourth time to put the set to bed.
Li was simply unable to find the court the second set. The Chinese player had a total of seven winners and committed thirty-three unforced errors for the match.
Sharapova rolled the last set, taking it at love. A more consistent match for Sharapova with five winners and fourteen unforced errors.
Sharapova, the world number two, has advanced to the final each time she has made it past the fourth round. However, in the semifinals, Serena Williams or Caroline Wozniacki may stand in her way. The latter two will duke it out in the evening session.
Sharapova was determined to find a solution to the Li conundrum. Following the match, the Russian claimed “I came into this match losing to her the last few times. I just really wanted to change that. So, I was extremely focused”.
With less than ideal weather, Sharapova stated “I was just really consistent today in those conditions. . . It’s a little gusty and blowing around and facing a tough opponent. Consistency is really very important while playing my game. I did a good job of that, maintaining that throughout the match”.
Looking forward to the semifinals, Sharapova iterated “either one is extremely tough. . . I haven’t beaten Serena in a while. So, I’d love to play her. It’s good to see her back and playing really good tennis. Caroline, she’s been one of the most consistent players on the tour for many reasons”.
Sharapova is 2-7 versus Williams but has a winning record against Wozniacki 3-2.