Li, Kvitova reach Championships semis

Updated: October 25, 2013

Istanbul, Turkey ( – Chinese star Li Na prevented world
No. 2 Victoria Azarenka from reaching this weekend’s semifinals at the season-
ending $6.5 million WTA Championships.

Li was joined in the semis by fifth-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up Petra
Kvitova, who snuck past eighth seed Angelique Kerber 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 6-3.

Friday’s round-robin action opened with the fourth-seeded Li leveling a
hobbled Azarenka 6-2, 6-1 on the indoor hardcourt at Sinan Erdem Dome. It
marked a rematch of January’s Australian Open final, which was won by the
Belarusian star.

Azarenka injured her back on Day 4 and required treatment during several
changeovers amid the uneventful setback versus Li.

The former French Open champion Li went a perfect 3-0 in this week’s four-
player White Group, while the former world No. 1 and 2011 Championships
runner-up Azarenka went 1-2, including losses in her last two matches in

The White Group also featured sixth-seeded Sara Errani (1-2) and seventh seed
Jelena Jankovic (1-2), who had already secured a spot in Saturday’s final
four before losing to Errani in Friday’s last round-robin affair, as Errani
doused the former No. 1 and former U.S. Open runner-up 6-4, 6-4.

The four-woman Red Group was captured by Serena Williams (3-0). That group
also featured third seed Agnieszka Radwanska (0-3), the 2011 Championships
champion Kvitova (2-1) and Kerber (1-2). The U.S. and French Open champion
Williams easily rolled into the semis, where she was joined from the Red Group
by Kvitova, who will lock horns with Li here on Saturday.

Williams will take on a resurgent Jankovic on Saturday in a rematch of the
2008 U.S. Open final, which was won by the formidable American. Williams is
7-4 lifetime versus Jankovic, including 2-0 this year in a pair of finals in
Charleston and Beijing.

Li and Kvitova will meet for a seventh time, with the two women splitting
their first six matchups. The Czech left-hander topped the Chinese veteran in
Beijing three weeks ago.

The three-time champion and two-time runner-up Williams is the reigning WTA
Championships titlist, having beaten Maria Sharapova in last year’s finale in
Istanbul, which is hosting this elite eight-woman event for a third and final
time before it shifts to Singapore next year.

The 32-year-old Williams, who’s a stellar 76-4 this season, headed to Istanbul
having already clinched the year-end No. 1 spot for the third time in her
brilliant career.

An undefeated champion this week, which could only be Williams or Li at this
point, would stand to earn $2.1 million.