Li Na v Flavia Pennetta live from Indian Wells - second Australian Open rematch for Li

Li Na (JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
It is another Australian open rematch for Li Na, this time against quarter-finalist Flavia Pennetta.

Top seed Li Na survived a spirited comeback from the defeated Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova but it took her more than two and a half hours to get the win over the tenacious Slovakian. 

If the stars had aligned that evening in Melbourne, then under the sunny skies in California, it looked as though maybe it would be Cibulkova’s day after she overcame a first set deficit to race out to a 5-1 lead in the second set. Such is a champion’s mentality, Li clawed her way back into the match before relinquishing the second set to Cibulkova.

But in the third set, Li stepped back on the gas, and put paid to Cibulkova’s challenge, but there was a lot to take note of.

 "Here was different than Australia - of course the score should be different, but today she played more aggressive," Li said. "I felt like if I stepped back a bit she would step into the balls more, and in the second set my level dropped and it gave her the chances, and she was getting a lot of winners in. 

 "I think there's still a little bit of a problem with my level staying the same from beginning to end, but it's good information, and I'll take it and just try to improve my tennis for the next day and next match." 

Pennetta continued flying the flag for the older women of the tour as she met with a suddenly in form Sloane Stephens who has played some of her best tennis in a while in California. This was their first hard court encounter and it was a hard fought affair first with Pennetta striking the early iniative and going up a set and a break, and then with Stephens hitting back in the second set getting herself right back in it after Pennetta was serving for the match at 6-4 5-4.

Stephens ran off six games on the trot and was within a point of a 4-0 lead in the decider before the Italian went on her own march, winning six of the last seven games even though it took her five match-points in the process.

 "We didn't play our best tennis," Pennetta said. "Maybe in the beginning we played much better, and in the second one, but the third was a disaster for both of us. I'm happy to get through this match, but I don't have good feelings right now - it's just crazy outside, the wind is just coming out of nowhere. 

 "But on the other hand I'm happy because I was 3-0 down in the third and fought until the last point." 

Expect both to step up the aggression – Li threw in some nifty serve-volleys in her match against Cibulkova, but with Pennetta’s agility and finesse at the net, she will more than meet her match.

It the form book for this pair follows its pattern, then it should be Pennetta’s turn, which would level their head to head, but Li has been perhaps a touch more consistent throughout the tournament.

Li and Pennetta are scheduled on Stadium 1, not before 8:30pm (3:30am GMT).



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Li Na v Flavia Pennetta live from Indian Wells - second Australian Open rematch for Li

Li Na only has a slight edge over Flavia Pennetta in their head to head

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