Sports / Tennis

Li Na to meet Serena in first WTA final

(Agencies) Updated: 2013-10-27 14:21

Li Na to meet Serena in first WTA final

Li Na of China hits a return to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic during their WTA tennis championships semifinal match at Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul, Oct 26, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

ISTANBUL - China's Li Na will meet Serena Williams in the final of the WTA championships after beating Czech Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-2 on Saturday, becoming the highest-ranked player ever from an Asian country.

Title holder Williams struggled early on with her own game before overcoming Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-4 2-6 6-4 in the other semifinal to set up a clash between two players over 30.

Li's victory means she will climb to third in the rankings and can finish the season on a high in her first WTA Championships final on Sunday.

"It's awesome, because we're both in our 30s and, you know, I think we're both playing the best tennis of our career. We're still getting better," Williams said.

"I personally think I can do better. I'm sure she believes she can as well and it's really good to have a peer right next to you your same age doing just as good, so it feels good."

The 32-year-old world number one, going for fourth title at the season-ending event, was not her usual self during the first two sets, not serving with her customary power and lacking enthusiasm to run for returns.

Williams seemed close to tears at a changeover in the first set yet she went back on court and won eight straight points, but taking the set did not appear to improve her mood and her serves were even slower during the second.

The 14,000 fans who filledIstanbul's Sinan Erdem dome were disappointed by Serena's blues and some even booed her although she had entered court for her match to the loudest cheers.

Williams found her rhythm in the third set and started hitting her strong serves once again to get the job done.

"I just hit a wall, I was so tired. Physically I was so tired just even standing... My legs wouldn't move. My arm wouldn't go fast," Williams said.

"I think when you are doing something so much for so long throughout the year, maybe it can take its toll... At the end of the match, I was really just fighting just to stay in there and just try and get my legs to move to go to the balls.

"I'm just - just one word is "exhausted." I need to lay down for 24 hours and that's it, I think. But I don't have that time, so I'll try," said Williams, who became the first woman tennis player to earn more than $10 million in prizes in a year.

"I was looking at the statistics when the tournament began. I saw I had like 70-something matches, and the person closest to me had like 50, I think Agniezska Radwanska.

"Really? I played 20 matches more than her? I thought, that's a lot! I didn't realize how much I had been going at it."

Li Na to meet Serena in first WTA final

Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic (L) listens to her coach David Kotyza during her WTA tennis championships women's singles semifinal match against Li Na of China at Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul, Oct 26, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

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