Li Na eliminated Victoria Azarenka on Friday at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul and moved into the semifinals with three victories in the White Group. Azarenka struggled with a back injury from the start but kept playing. Li took it to her advantage and won three straight games to start the first set, before Vika started playing and managed to approach to 3-2. However, Li proceeded to overwhelm Azarenka with eight straight games and soon closed the match 6-2 6-1. This is Li’s first time in three tries to reach the semifinals of the tournament and if she wins her next match and pushes through into the finals she will rise from world No.5 to No.3. With that the Chinese will become the highest ranked player from Asia ever.
Li’s win over Azarenka placed Jelena Jankovic as the second semifinalist in the White Group, while the Serb later lost to Sara Errani 6-4 6-4 in the last match on today’s schedule. Jankovic will be playing her third WTA Championships semifinal and her first since 2009.
Serena Williams was the first to make the semis of the 2013 edition of the season-ending Championships, reigning the Red Group with her three victories already on Thursday, and today she was accompanied by Petra Kvitova, who edged Angelique Kerber 6-7(3) 6-2 6-3, after wasting a 4-1 lead in the first set and losing the set in the tiebreak.
As the leading player of the White Group plays the second semifinalist of the Red Group and vice versa, the semifinal meetings will be Li Na vs. Petra Kvitova and Jelena Jankovic vs. Serena Williams. (photo: © Neal Trousdale)