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Li knocks out top seed Wozniacki ; Nadal upset in quarterfinals

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Li Na became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam singles final, recovering from a set and a break down and saving a match point before beating top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 Thursday in the Australian Open semifinals.

Wozniacki, playing at a major for the first time with the world's top ranking, had match point at 5-4 and 40-30 in the second set before Li rallied.

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.

In men's play the day before, Rafael Nadal wiped the tears from his eyes with his taped-up fingers.

His Rafa Slam was evaporating. The 25-match winning streak in Grand Slams and his bid to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major titles at once was three games from ending.

He was hurt. He was down two sets and a break. It was the same court, and the same round where he retired in the Australian Open last year. Yet the idea of packing it in didn't even enter his mind.

"I hate the retirements," he said, "This wasn't the day. I did last year. I hate that moment. Didn't want to repeat that."

Six games later, Nadal was out of the tournament, losing 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer on Wednesday night in Rod Laver Arena, the center court at Melbourne Park named after the Australian great whose four consecutive majors he was trying to match.

"It's a victory for me. But it's not a victory really," Ferrer said.

Laver, who lives in Carlsbad, Calif., was surprised to hear of Nadal's loss.

"I'll be darned," Laver said in a phone interview with the Associated Press. "I thought he'd come all the way through but he didn't. They were all counting that he was going to be the defending champion in all four tournaments.

"That's disappointing for him, really," Laver said. "In a way, that was an effort to put all those tournaments together through last year. It really was a good performance. I had him as being favored, even to beat Federer, the way he was playing. He just has got a game that's difficult for Roger."

Laver is the last man to win a true Grand Slam, made up of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in a calendar year. He did it twice, as an amateur in 1962 and again in 1969.

Again, it was Australia Day. Again, Nadal's match was interrupted by fireworks for the national day celebrations. Again, the match was a dud.

Nadal received treatment to his upper left thigh after the third game. He had the thigh heavily strapped. He needed treatment again after the first set.

"I can say nothing about the injury," he said after the match. "Seriously, I would prefer don't talk a lot about the injury.

"Tonight, first of all, I don't know nothing. Second thing, for respect to the winner and to a friend, I prefer to talk about the match. I think he played at a very high level. I just congratulate him and wish him all the best for the semifinal."

He was later quoted in Spanish as saying he had a small tear in a muscle in his upper left leg.

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