Venus Williams was removed from Australian Open competition in the quarterfinals today by Li Na, who--in defeating the 6th seed 2-6, 7-6, 7-5--became the first Chinese woman in history to get to the top 10.
The match was interesting--and sometimes exciting--from a defensive point of view, but holding serve was definitely the major weakness of both players. There were 17 breaks of serve, and the match lasted almost three hours, invoking memories of the first round Jankovic-Paszek match of 2008. In the third set, Li didn't hold serve until the 8th game. She served for the match at 5-4, but was broken at love. She then broke Williams at love.
Li has always struggled with nerves, and she was clearly anxious when she blew her first two match points. But then she hit a monster forehand that bounced precisely on the line to get an ad point, and put away another stylish forehand on her third match point.
Each player hit 27 winners, each made over 50 unforced errors, and Williams double-faulted eleven times. Li, especially, was loose and focused when her opponent served, but tight and careless on her own serve. The match was was messy, yet--in its own way--hard-fought. The 16th seed will now play the winner of the Serena Williams-Victoria Azarenka quarterfinal.