Angelique Kerber and Na Li will be in action this afternoon in the eagerly awaited Western and Southern Open final
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Na Li was the first player to make it through to the final of the Western and Southern Open last night, as she fought off a spirited fightback from Venus Williams to clinch a 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 win. Williams had been enjoying a well deserved run of victories, but couldn’t overcome the former French Open champion. It was revealed after the match that Venus had been struggling with a back injury.
“I pretty much couldn't serve,” said Williams after the match. “I wanted to try though. Especially since this was my first semifinal of the year, I wanted to try to see if I could get to the final. Right now I don't know why my back hurts. I just know it hurts. After this I'm going to get an evaluation and see what exactly is happening with it.”
Li will now be looking to win her first title of the season, having lost in three finals already this year. She seems happy with how she’s playing at the moment. “The last two years I never got one point in North America - it's amazing I'm in another final,” said Li. “After Montréal I felt very tired. I got here and my coach sent me a text message saying the most important thing is the first match here. I don't know what happened, but the ball is going in the court all the time.”
It later became clear that Li would be meeting Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the final. Kerber had been in control in the first set of her match against Petra Kvitova, and made a good start to the second. Kvitova refused to bow out of the tournament limply though, and went on to win the next six games. Kerber eventually regrouped, leaving the court with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 success.
“My tactic was to move very well and bring the balls back and deep,” explained Kerber. “I started very well in the second set, but she started to hit winners and I had no chance actually, but I just kept fighting until the last point.”
“It's amazing to be here in the final - for sure right now this is one of my favorite tournaments. I came here to get a lot of matches before New York, and I beat Serena and Petra and I'm in the final. I'm enjoying myself so much.”
Li holds a 4-1 head to head record against Kerber prior to this match. Perhaps more importantly, the two players have beaten each other once this season.
“She moves very well and can hit the balls very deep and very hard, and she has a great serve - it will be a tough match,” said Kerber. “I need to play one-hundred percent to have a chance to win. It's the final; I will enjoy it, I've enjoyed my whole week.”