ISTANBUL (AP) — Li Na advanced to her first WTA Championships final by sweeping past 2011 winner Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday.
With the victory in the semifinal, Li will rise to a career-high No. 3 ranking, a jump of two places. She will play for the title Sunday against the winner of the other semifinal between Serena Williams or Jelena Jankovic.
Li is unbeaten in four matches in the tournament after failing to advance from the group stage in the previous two years. The elite tournament brings together the top eight players in the world. This is only the second time in the history of the championships that two players over 30 — Williams at 32 and Li at 31 — have made it to the last four.
Li now holds a 4-3 career edge over Kvitova, a Czech who won Wimbledon in 2011 — the same year Li won the French Open. The Chinese star, seeded fourth, began the match by breaking serve and racing to a 3-0 lead before Kvitova came back to make it 4-4. But a backhand winner from Li broke her fifth-seeded opponent again and she closed out the set with a cross-court forehand followed by a service winner.
Kvitova had no reply to Li's forehand and was broken again in the second set to fall behind 3-2. After saving a break point, Li hit an ace to go up 4-2. Kvitova dropped serve again and netted a backhand on Li's second match point for her 29th unforced error.