By Chris Oddo/ Friday, October 25, 2013
Li Na will head to the semifinals with an unblemished record in Istanbul after defeating Victoria Azarenka. Jelena Jankovic also advances.
Photo Source: AP
Li Na ended a personal five-match losing streak against Victoria Azarenka to remain undefeated at the WTA Championships in Istanbul on Friday, 6-2, 6-1.
Li's victory also sends Jelena Jankovic through to the semifinals for the third time and first since 2009.
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Jankovic will face Serena Williams on Saturday, while Li will face Petra Kvitova.
Against an injured Azarenka, who felt her back lock up mid-way through the first set but played on despite the pain, Li reeled off eight straight games from 3-2 in the first set to lead 6-2, 5-0, to clinch her first appearance in the semifinals at Istanbul. The Chinese also moves within one match of reaching No. 3 in the rankings—if she advances to the final she will leapfrog Agnieszka Radwanska and Maria Sharapova to climb to a career-high slot.
She would become the highest-ranked player in Asian tennis history if she gets the win. Li had reached No. 4 in the rankings previously, a ranking also held by Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm.
Afterwards Li acknowledged that her opponent was not at 100 percent. "I know this is not the best way to win the match," Li said afterwards. "I saw her a little bit bothered with her back but she kept playing, so it was very tough for me mentally.”
"Everybody saw that I was in a lot of pain," Azarenka said. "At the end of the day it's my decision what I'm going to do. I just felt that I want to try my best and go from there."
2013 marks Li's third consecutive appearance at the WTA Championships. She went 1-2 in each of the last two years.
Li and Serena Williams are the only two players who remain unbeaten at this year's championships.
Jankovic, who will face Sara Errani later on Friday, advances to the semifinals on the strength of Li's win and an advantage in tiebreakers should Errani defeat her today.