Thursday, 12 January 2012

Li Na to meet Azarenka in Sydney Final

Li Na
Li Na will play Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Apia International in Sydney after both players came from behind to upset their semi-final opponents in three set clashes.  Li Na was first up and she defeated Petra Kvitova in a gritty display, 1-6 7-5 6-2.  Li's win also meant that Caroline Wozniacki remains the number one player in the world as Kvitova had a chance of toppling the Dane if she had won this title.  That certainly looked possible as Kvitova raced through the first set and took an early break in the second set to lead 6-1 3-1.  Kvitova's powerful, deep strokes were winning the day, but some mental lapses from Kvitova allowed Li back into the match and she won the second set.  Li played an excellent third set to reach the Sydney final for the second consecutive year.  She has really turned her game around from the end of last year and this win here showed a great deal of determination with Kvitova swinging so freely early on.  Kvitova has got some solid match practice under her belt this week and will go into the Australian Open in good  form and as the favourite with the bookmakers.

The other semi-final saw Victoria Azarenka come back from a first set breadstick to beat Agnieszka Radwanska, 1-6 6-3 6-2.  Radwanska showed her full repertoire in a sparking first set, but she seemed to tire and gave Azarenka a number of opportunities on her second serve.  Azarenka duly obliged as she raised her game to take the match in 1 hour and 57 minutes.  You can watch highlights from the two exciting semi-finals below... for the final, it is a close one to call, but I went for Azarenka from the start and I will stick by my original prediction for the Belarusian to prevail.

In Hobart, the semi-finals were set with the number one seed, Yanina Wickmayer to play Shahar Peer.  Peer benefited from an unfortunate retirement from Anna Chakvetadze in the third set as Chakvetadze looked to be dominating proceedings before a back injury forced her to retire.  Wickmayer's comeback from injury started to gather pace with an excellent 6-4 6-0 victory over Simona Halep.  The other semi-final will be an all German affair between Angelique Kerber and Mona Barthel.  Kerber saved 2 match points to defeat Sorana Cirstea in a wild 6-0 3-6 7-5 quarter-final match and Barthel continued to cause shockwaves as she recovered from the loss of the first set to beat the defending Hobart champion, Jarmila Gajdosova.

WTA Sydney Final - Victoria Azarenka to beat Li Na in 3 sets
WTA Hobart Semi-Finals - Wickmayer to beat Peer in 2 sets and Barthel to beat Kerber in 3 sets

TONIGHT - The Australian Open draws will be released! In-depth previews for both the mens and womens draws will be uploaded before play begins on Monday :-)

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