China’s Li clinches historic Australian Open final spot

NINTH seed Li Na became the first Chinese player to reach a grand slam singles final after a three-set win over world No1 Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open.

The 28-year-old (right), who had previously not gone beyond the last eight in one of the four major events, survived match point against her before coming through 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 to set up a final against Kim Clijsters.

“This is good for my tennis career, of course,” said Li. “Good for me, good for my team, maybe good for China tennis.

“But of course this is a good experience for my whole life, because many players, they play a long time, but they never come to the final of a grand slam.”

Na began her career at 14 but was branded a rebellious character for quitting the national team in 2002 after finding the state coaching system too rigid.

She was subsequently barred by officials from dating the man who is now her husband and coach, Jiang Shan.

In the other semi-final US Open champion Clijsters repeated her Flushing Meadows win over Vera Zvonareva. The Belgian took just 73 minutes to win through in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.