Tournament favorites Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka all reached the semifinals at the WTA Championships at Istanbul. Serena and Sharapova both qualified Thursday while Azarenka needed a win over Li Na today and got it 7-6, 6-3.
The win for Azarenka not only puts her in the semifinals against Sharapova, but it also clinches her as the 2012 year-end WTA No. 1.
“It’s a dream come true and I feel great,” Azarenka said. “Now I just want to play my last matches of the year and then after that I can relax and enjoy this moment more. Right now I’m in competition and trying to focus on every single day – there’s still a lot of challenge in this tournament.”
Azarenka has won the last six hardcourt meetings against Sharapova, and overall she leads the Russian 7-4.
“There are definitely not going to be any surprises tomorrow, but it’s a different occasion, a different place, “Azarenka said. “I’ve never played her at the WTA Championships, so it’s new and it’s not new – you can take it both ways.”
In the earlier semifinals, it’s a battle between power against placement as Serena faces Agnieszka Radwanska in a rematch of their three-set Wimbledon final.
While Serena enjoyed a day off after three straight set wins, the underdog Radwanska will have to recover quickly after spending nearly three and a half hours in a win today over Sara Errani.
“Obviously Serena’s a great champion – in that kind of match I have nothing to lose, so I’ll just go on court and enjoy it,” Radwanska said. “I’ve had a lot of tennis the last few days and it’s really hard to play like this every day.
“I’ll try my best, but we’ll see how it’s going to be!”
Serena has won all three meetings with Radwanska.
ISTANBUL SATURDAY SCHEDULE
Stadium (from 13.00hrs)
1. Huber/Raymond vs. Hlavackova/Hradecka
2. Serena Williams vs. Agnieszka Radwanska (NB 15.00hrs)
3. Maria Sharapova vs. Victoria Azarenka
4. Errani/Vinci vs. Kirilenko/Petrova
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