Maria Sharapova: 'Li Na is most-improved player'

China's Li Na hits a return in her second round match at the Australian Open tennis championship on January 16, 2013
© AP Photos
Maria Sharapova says that her Australian Open semi-final opponent Li Na was the "most-improved player" last season.

World number two Maria Sharapova has said that she expects a tough battle against Li Na in their Australian Open semi-final in Melbourne.

The Russian has dropped just nine games on her way to the last four, and holds a winning 8-4 record over the Chinese sixth seed.

Sharapova said that Li, who claimed her seventh WTA title at the Shenzhen Open at the start of the month, has improved her game considerably over the last year.

"I've beaten her the last few times that we've played, but they've always been really good matches, really tough matches," said Sharapova. "I certainly expect it in the next one.

"She's had a great start to the year and is playing really well.

"She was the most-improved player towards the end of last year as well, so that will be hopefully a high-quality semi."

The 25-year-old holds a winning 8-4 record over Li.

Maria Sharapova waves to the crowd following her quarter-final victory over Ekaterina Makarova on January 22, 2013
Read Next:
Result: Sharapova demolishes Makarova
>
You May Like
Recomended from Sports Mole



ATP RankingsPoints
1Scotland flag Andy Murray7,750
2Spain Rafael Nadal7,555
3Switzerland Roger Federer7,145
4Switzerland Stanislas Wawrinka5,780
5Serbia Novak Djokovic5,325
6Croatia Marin Cilic5,155
7Alexander Zverev4,470
8Austria Dominic Thiem4,030
9Japan Kei Nishikori3,285
10Canada Milos Raonic3,230
11Bulgaria Grigor Dimitrov3,070
12France Jo-Wilfried Tsonga2,770
13Belgium David Goffin2,560
14Spain Roberto Bautista Agut2,425
15Czech Republic Tomas Berdych2,390
16United States Jack Sock2,335
17Pablo Carreno Busta2,305
18Lucas Pouille2,220
19United States John Isner2,110
20United States Sam Querrey2,060