Li Na makes confident start to season finale

After seeing off Sara Errani, Chinese ace can make semi-finals of the WTA Championships for the first time if she can beat Jelena Jankovic on Thursday

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 October, 2013, 11:06am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 October, 2013, 11:06am

Li Na made an encouraging start to her bid to qualify for her first WTA Championships semi-finals when she contained a courageous second-set fightback by Sara Errani, the sixth-seeded Italian, to win 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) on Wednesday.

The first Chinese player to win a grand slam attacked with flair and ambition with her flat hitting and dominated many periods of the match, though she needed to fight and focus harder to regain control after her level dropped early in the second set.

“I have a very good physio,” Li had said before the match, explaining her enduringly good court coverage, and it seemed that Errani, who had considered withdrawing with an injury, must have had good treatment, too.

She appeared with spectacular blue taping from the back of her ankles to the knees on both legs, but was still able to run, fight, and make it difficult for an opponent she had never beaten.

It means that if Li can on Thursday overcome Jelena Jankovic, the former world number one from Serbia, she will almost certainly make the last four.

Jankovic beat second seed Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-3, aided by 40 unforced errors from her erratic opponent.

“It feels incredible to beat Azarenka here in Istanbul,” the former world No 1, making her first appearance at the event for three years, said. “I was so excited to qualify and give myself a chance to play against the best players in the world once again, and to win today is amazing.

“Every match in the round robin format counts, and every match is difficult too. I’m really happy. Beating Vika will give me a lot of confidence going into the next matches.”

World number one Serena Williams beat Agnieszka Radwanska for the eighth time in eight matches to move ominously towards the semi-finals. The American was again too strong for the Pole in a 6-2, 6-4 victory to stay in charge of Red Group with one more round-robin match to come against Petra Kvitova, another player to whom she has never suffered defeat.

“Radwanska definitely played pretty well. Am I happy? I guess. I’m happy to still be alive in the tournament. But, you know, I can always look to improve on some things,” Williams said after her 75th match win of a dominant year.