Li Na shrugs off shock Indian Wells exit

Italian tennis player Flavia Pennetta celebrates her victory over China's world No. 2 Li Na at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Story highlights

  • Flavia Pennetta shocks world No. 2 Li Na to reach final at Indian Wells
  • Italian will face world No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska in Sunday's title match
  • Poland's Radwanska ends run of Romania's rising star Simona Halep
  • Men's No. 2 Novak Djokovic sets up semifinal against John Isner

For Li Na, it was no big deal. For Flavia Pennetta, it was one of the most important victories of her tennis career.

The tale of the two 32-year-olds could not be more contrasting: Li has risen to second in the world rankings following January's Australian Open triumph, while Pennetta is hoping to climb as high as 12th by winning the biggest final she has ever played in.

The Italian battled through to Sunday's title match at Indian Wells by avenging her one-sided Melbourne quarterfinal defeat against Li, this time triumphing 7-6 (7-5) 63 in one hour 48 minutes.

She earned a clash with Polish second seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who defeated Romania's No. 6 Simona Halep 6-3 6-4 in Friday's opening semifinal.

"I have to be really aggressive. I have to go for winners," Pennetta said of Radwanska, who she beat in Dubai in February before losing to eventual champion Venus Williams in the quarterfinals.

Grand slam champ's new venture

    Just Watched

    Grand slam champ's new venture

Grand slam champ's new venture 03:46
PLAY VIDEO
Lacoste: From tennis legend to style icon

    Just Watched

    Lacoste: From tennis legend to style icon

Lacoste: From tennis legend to style icon 03:32
PLAY VIDEO

"But I can't rush too much, because she's a wall. I mean, I have to make seven times the winners against her. But I played really well against her in Dubai, so I hope to play the same way this time."

Li, the top seed in the Californian desert tournament in the absence of Serena Williams, shrugged off her defeat -- having improved on her last tournament outing, which ended in the second round in Qatar last month.

"It's not bad. It's not like I lost my first match," China's first grand slam singles champion said. "At least I had a few matches in Indian Wells, and making the semifinals isn't bad, and it's not like I lost to a bad player. She was playing really well.

"It's nothing to worry about. I have a couple things I want to improve for the next tournament."

Pennetta is seeking her 10th WTA Tour title, but her first in a top-tier tournament -- and she has lost 13 other finals.

"In the beginning of the week if you told me, 'You're going to make the final here,' I would have said, 'Mmmm, I don't think so!' So I'm really happy. I'm happy with my game," she said.

Gasquet's world famous backhand

    Just Watched

    Gasquet's world famous backhand

Gasquet's world famous backhand 03:37
PLAY VIDEO
French tennis flying high

    Just Watched

    French tennis flying high

French tennis flying high 06:23
PLAY VIDEO

Halep, meanwhile, will rise to fifth from seventh in the rankings despite her defeat -- the best by any woman player from her country.

"It's amazing for me. I'm not sad because I lost here. It happens. That's tennis. I have to understand I cannot win every match," said the 22-year-old.

Australian Open semifinalist Radwanska will be seeking her 14th WTA title, and her first since last September's Korea Open.

Meanwhile, men's No. 2 Novak Djokovic made it through to Saturday's semifinals at Indian Wells, where he won the 2008 and 2011 titles.

The Serbian defeated France's Julien Benneteau 6-1 6-3 on Friday to set up a clash with American John Isner -- who beat him at the same stage two years ago.

Big-serving Isner progressed by beating Latvia's Ernests Gulbis 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-3) on Friday.

Roger Federer, a four-time champion in the Coachella Valley, will face Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov in Saturday's opening semi.

Read: Why wine is calling Mauresmo

Read: Nadal, Sharapova beaten at Indian Wells

      Tennis

    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.