Defending champion Li Na and Peng Shuai advanced yesterday to set up an all-Chinese final at the Shenzhen Open.
The top-seeded Li defeated Germany’s Annika Beck 6-1, 6-3, while fifth-seeded Peng advanced in a walkover when the US’ Vania King withdrew with a right thigh injury.
“It’ll be a tough match tomorrow [today],” Li said. “We’re quite familiar with each other and have improved a lot over the past year. But no matter what, I’m quite looking forward to the final.”
Li was leading 6-1, 5-0 yesterday when Beck came back to reel off three straight games, but the former French Open champion regrouped to close out the match.
King said she began feeling pain in her leg during her win over second-seeded Sara Errani in the second round and pulled out to rest before the Australian Open, which begins on Jan. 13.
“It was a really difficult decision for me to pull out because I hate losing and not competing,” King said. “But I just have to look out for my health.”
Today’s final is set to be just the second in WTA history to feature two Chinese players. Li lost the first when she retired against Zheng Jie at Oeiras in 2006.
Li has a 5-1 record against Peng, including a 4-0 mark at tournaments in China.
Former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic maintained her sizzling form yesterday to storm into the final of the Auckland Classic, setting up a decider with seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams.
Second seed Ivanovic dominated her doubles partner Kirsten Flipkens 6-0, 7-6 (7-3) in their semi-final, while Williams benefited from a walkover after fifth seed Jamie Hampton pulled out with an injury.
Ivanovic made the perfect start, breaking Flipkens three times to take the first set from the Belgian 6-0 in just 22 minutes.
Flipkens, who committed 13 unforced errors in the first set and three double faults, recovered to force a tie-break in the second.
However, Ivanovic, who has not dropped a set in the tournament, never looked troubled and comfortably wrapped up the match.
The win gave the Serb, who has failed to capitalize on her sole Grand Slam success at the 2008 French Open, the chance to win her first WTA Tour title since November 2011.
It will be a confidence booster for the world No. 16 ahead of today’s showdown with Williams, who has won eight of their nine previous meetings.