Agnieszka Radwanska is the hottest player on the women’s tour this year but is not underestimating the threat posed by Li Na as she bids for a place in the Australian Open semi-finals.
Poland’s top player, seeded four at Melbourne Park, beat the Chinese number one 6-3, 6-4 at the lead-up Sydney International tournament, an event she went on to win.
It followed her victory in Auckland the previous week which coupled with her run to the last eight here gives her an enviable streak of 13 unbeaten matches without dropping a set, unmatched by anyone else so far.
Li fought hard in the Sydney semi-final, but errors at crucial times ultimately cost her dearly.
Radwanska, though, is wary of the Chinese star as she searches for her first Grand Slam title, with the Wuhan native also carrying solid momentum into their showdown on Tuesday.
“It’s always tough against her,” Radwanska said of the sixth seed, who made the Melbourne final in 2011 and was a semi-finalist in 2010. She fell in the fourth round last year.
“She’s always playing very solid tennis. I think I really have to play aggressive against her, definitely serving good, really playing my hundred per cent best tennis. Otherwise I’m not going to win.
”She’s a very consistent player and moving very well.“
Until now, Radwanska has proved far too powerful and consistent for her opponents this year, and comfortably dismantled the game of 13th seeded Serb Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round.
Neither Radwanska, who has never gone beyond the last eight at Melbourne in six previous tournaments, nor Li have the best serve on tour and the Pole feels their game will be a baseline slugfest.
”Well, I think in our matches it’s not about the power on the serve,“ she said.
”I think we both have other shots, other type of games that we are good at. That’s why even against the players that’s serving 200 kilometres per hour, we are still able to beat them.
“Tennis is not about the serve only.”
Li swept impressively into Tuesday’s showdown by beating Germany’s 18th seed Julia Goerges 7-6 (8/6), 6-1 as she targets her second Grand Slam title.
Li, who became Asia’s first Grand Slam champion at the 2011 French Open, showed her pedigree by saving a first-set set point in a tense tie-breaker. After that she was untouchable.
The 30-year-old is happy to have made it so far after last year’s heartbreak when she went out at the same hurdle to Belgian Kim Clijsters, the woman who beat her for the title in 2011.
“Really looking forward to the quarter-final,” she said.
“For one and a half years, I always lose in the fourth round. So for me it was very important [to win the fourth round match].”