Melbourne :Li Na became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam singles final, saving a match point before beating top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 on Thursday in the Australian Open semifinals.
Wozniacki, playing at a major for the first time with the No. 1 ranking, had match point at 5-4 and 40-30 in the second set before Li rallied. An hour and six minutes later, she served out on her first match point.
Li, who lost to Serena Williams in two tiebreak sets in the semifinals here last year, will meet either Kim Clijsters or No. 2 Vera Zvonareva in the final.
Li beat Clijsters in the final of the leadup event at Sydney earlier this month, becoming the first Chinese woman to win a WTA premier event. It was just another first for Li, who was the first Chinese player to win a tour-level title and the first to enter the top 10.
She is also the first player from Asia to reach a Grand Slam singles final.
"I'm so happy I can be the first Chinese player to come to a final. I always do the first one!," she said in a lighthearted interview after the match in which she joked about losing sleep on the eve of the match because her coach-husband Shan Jiang was snoring.
Asked what motivated her comeback, she deadpanned: "Prize money."
Li looked down and out after the first set, when she made 17 unforced errors and struggled for consistency. She finished with 51 unforced errors, but that was a reflection of her pushing Wozniacki to the extremes.
Wozniacki could have ended the match in 1 hour, 29 minutes, but Li hit a forehand down the line, forcing an error and saving match point. It sparked a revival. She broke in that game to make it 5-5, held at love and then broke her Danish rival's serve again -- after Wozniacki three times had game points to force a tiebreaker --to make it level at one set apiece.
They traded breaks twice in the third set before Li held her nerve to finish it off when Wozniacki miscued a forehand.