World No. 1 Serena Williams will try to cap one of her best seasons with a title at the year-end WTA Championships on Sunday. In the semifinals today, a fatiguing Serena hung on to defeat Jelena Jankovic in three sets 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. She’ll now face Li Na in the all 30-plus title match.
“I’m just really trying out here,” Williams said after nearly losing a 5-1 final set lead. “I think my body’s a little tired after so many matches – I think yesterday I kind of hit a wall. But I’m just fighting out here.
“Honestly I’m just happy to still be in the tournament, and I’m honored to be in the final again.”
This marks Serena’s sixth time in the final of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships. She has won the title three times, in 2001, 2009 and 2012, and was a runner-up twice, in 2002 (to Kim Clijsters) and 2004 (to Maria Sharapova). She is after her fourth title here – only three players have won four or more titles at this event (Martina Navratilova won it eight times, Steffi Graf five and Chris Evert four) and she’s won her last 14 at the event.
Williams also leads Li Na in their series, 9-1, including three straight set wins this season.
Li Na also is undefeated this week at the event and in her semi she beat Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-2. With the win she becomes the first Asian player to ever reach the finals of the tournament and she also will move to a career-best No. 3 in the rankings.
“The Top 3 was my goal for this year,” Li said. “I’m so happy I could catch it in the last match.”
Serena is seeking her 11th title of the year and her 78th match win, both personal single-season bests for the American.
The winner will earn 1,500 WTA Ranking points and $2.145M which if Serena wins would her to the brink of the $12M level this season.
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