The Sony Open final on Saturday will feature the world No. 1 vs. world No. 2, but the two couldn’t be further apart on paper.
World No. 1 Serena Williams is appearing in her ninth Miami final, while it is the first for Li Na. Williams after a slow start rolled through her semifinal against Maria Sharapova, while Li struggled in a sloppy three-set win over Dominika Cibulkova.
Serena has lost once to the Chinese in 11 meetings, back in 2008.
Li does possess a growing confidence, and the powerful game to stand toe-to-toe with Serena, evident in their most recent meeting which was a three-set win for the American.
“I know it’s the first time [in the Sony Open final], but not the last time,” Li said after reaching her first Miami final.
Li will need to tighten up the errors to compete with Serena, who is at her best in Miami, where she has reached the most finals of any tournament on tour during her career.
“It’s a good challenge, I think,” Li said. “The last time I played her was in the WTA Championships, so three, four months already. Here we can really see how I’ve improved in these three, four months.”
This is the 14th straight year the Miami final features either Serena Williams, Venus Williams or Maria Sharapova
For the seventh time, the Miami final features the No.1 seed vs. No.2 seed; it is the first time since 2000, when  Martina Hingis d.  Lindsay Davenport, 63 62. The top seed has won the event 11 times, while the No.2 seed has prevailed on three occasions – and not since 1995 (No. 2 seed Graf d. No.7 seed Date).
This is the second final of 2014 featuring the Top 2 seeds –  S.Williams d.  Azarenka at Brisbane.
S.Williams and Li Na are meeting head-to-head for the 12th time – and third time in Miami (Williams leads 2-0, both previous meetings being at QF stage). Serena leads the series 10-1, although Li also benefitted from a SF walkover at 2012 Rome (does not count on H2H). Their most recent meeting was in the final of the 2013 WTA Championships, won by S.Williams in 3s.
Li is the first Chinese player to reach the final at Miami or any Premier Mandatory event.
S.Williams is playing the final here in Miami for the ninth time in her career, the most final appearances at any tournament for the American (6-2 in Miami finals).
2014 Miami marks the 50th career tournament at which S.Williams has been top seed (has won title 24 times as top seed; been runner-up eight times). The last top seed to win the title here at Miami was of course Serena last year (2013; d. Sharapova in F); she was also the last top seed (but ranked No.6) to triumph before that, in 2004 (d. Dementieva in F).
Only twice has the Miami tournament been won by a player who did not hold the world No.1 ranking during her career – 1989 (Sabatini) and 2012 (A.Radwanska).
A 6-time Miami champion, S.Williams has lost at this event only to a player who has held the No.1 ranking at some point in their career: Capriati (twice), V.Williams (twice), Azarenka, Hingis and Wozniacki.
S.Williams is bidding for her 59th singles title (58-17 in finals with one title via walkover), while Li is playing in her 21st career final (9-11 in finals).
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