ISTANBUL: Serena Williams overcame physical problems as well as emotional distress to defeat Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 on Saturday and reach the WTA Championships final.
The world No. 1 and defending champion, who will face China’s Li Na in Sunday’s final, put in a stumbling performance and twice sat weeping into her towel during change-overs.
She also committed 40 unforced errors and hit 40 winners, and allowed a 5-1 final set lead to evaporate to within one point of 5-5 before finishing the match with three trademark heavy blows.
“I’m relieved and just glad to be in the final,” said Williams.
Li earlier beat Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-2.
Sunday’s final will feature two players over the age of 30.
“The oldest players have more experience on court,” said Li.
“This year I was feeling more confident. I understand more what I should do on the court and off it.”
Meanwhile, Jankovic appeared to question Williams’ sportsmanship after losing a close three-set match to the game’s leading player.
Williams, who claims to be exhausted near the end of a long season, reacted with fretful worrying, and sometimes distracting behavior while struggling to a two-hour win over Jankovic.
It included weeping into her towel, gesticulating and arm-waving, bending over and slumping, yelling and calling out, and both moving during the rallies and conducting the game at different speeds.
“I never saw her do this when she’s leading,” Jankovic said of Williams’ go-slow moments.