MIAMI: China’s Li Na advanced to the finals of the WTA Tour’s Miami hardcourt tournament by beating Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Li will next face top seed Serena Williams who beat Russian Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 in the other semifinals match.
World No.2 Li hit two aces and had six double faults but she won 46 of 79 first serve points in the two hour, 20 minute match.
Williams extended her dominance of Sharapova for the ninth time.
Sharapova, ranked fifth in the world and seeded fourth, seized the first break in each set, but couldn’t build on her advantage as she went down to Williams for a 15th straight time.
Williams leads their career head-to-head 16-2, and Sharapova’s two victories in the rivalry came back in 2004, when a precocious 17-year-old Sharapova beat Williams in the finals at Wimbledon and the WTA Championships.
World number one Williams will be seeking a second straight Miami crown — and the seventh of her career on Saturday, when she takes on either Australian Open champion Li in the women’s final of the combined WTA and ATP Masters event.