The Williams sisters continued their uneven play on Wednesday at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, but each recovered in up-and-down matches to set up a Thursday semifinal meeting.
Serena Williams, looking as if she was going to break out in tears at times, came back to defeat China’s Li Na 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-2. Li won the first five games of the match before Serena began to work her way into the match.
“I’m glad to have gotten through,” Serena said. “I’ve played a lot of Chinese girls this week, wow. It was definitely a new experience. And hey, it’s obviously good for the U.S. Fed Cup team. They’re all obviously really consistent. They hit a flat ball and keep it low. They’re good players, as everyone is on the tour.”
Li had a 1-1 career record against the younger Williams sister entering the match.
“Both Williams sisters can win any tournament,” Li said. “They’re so strong mentally and they’re so strong on the court. They put so much pressure on you.”
Venus Williams ran through No. 26 seed Iveta Benesova 6-1 in the first set before totally losing her concentration, going down 1-4 in the second before recovering for a 6-1, 6-4 win.
“Sometimes when things aren’t going your way, the games start going so fast because everyone out there is good,” Venus said. “Fortunately it wasn’t a double break.”
Venus leads the sister series 10-9, winning the last two. If Serena loses the meeting, she will also hand over the No. 1 ranking to first-timer Dinara Safina of Russia.
Svetlana Kuznetsova and Victoria Azarenka will play the first semifinal on Thursday, with the Williams sisters playing the night match.
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