Bouchard falls to Li in Australian Open semifinal

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The Canadian Press
1/23/2014 7:42:04 AM
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MELBOURNE, Australia -- Montreal's Eugenie Bouchard is out of the Australian Open.

China's Li Na defeated Bouchard 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday in the semifinal of the women's singles tournament.

The 19-year-old Bouchard is the first Canadian woman to reach the final four of a Grand Slam tournament in 30 years.

"I'm proud of how I've improved as a player throughout the tournament. But I'm never satisfied with losing. I'm always disappointed," said Bouchard, who received a fifth stuffed Aussie animal -- an Emu named Sheila -- from her Australian fans dubbed the Genie Army.

"I always want to go further and do better. I wouldn't say I exceeded my expectations, but I'm happy with how I did."

Li, the No. 4-seed and the 2011 French Open champion, is the only major winner and the highest-ranked player still in contention after the fourth-round upsets of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Defending champion Victoria Azarenka's lost in the quarter-final to Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.

No. 5 seed Radwanska was playing Dominika Cibulkova in the second semifinal later Thursday.

Bouchard was determined to build off the success she experienced at the Australian Open.

"I've been working hard my whole life to do this, play at Grand Slams and do well," said Bouchard. "It's not an overnight thing. So I'm just going to go back to the practice courts and keep working hard."

Li, who lost last year's final to Azarenka, was aggressive from the start against Bouchard, who started nervously and didn't win a point in her first three service games.

Fittingly, Li finished off the match with a backhand crosscourt, one of 16 backhand winners in the match and her biggest weapon against Bouchard.

"I think maybe she will be best player in the world. But today (I'm) so lucky," said Li during a court-side interview after the match.

Li jokingly apologized to the Genie Army after the match, undoubtedly increasing her own huge support base at Melbourne Park.

"Sorry about that," she said. "If you guys be happy, I will go home."

Bouchard said she changed her strategy to get out of her early slump.

"I just wanted to get into the match a little bit more. I felt like she was really hitting her shots. I was just letting her do all these winners side to side, it wasn't really my game," said Bouchard. "I tried to get into the rallies more, try to step in a little bit more, and try to put more pressure on her because she was just putting a lot of pressure on me.

"She didn't give me much breathing space, much room to do what I want to do on the court. I tried to put pressure, but she just played too good at moments."



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