We’re down to the final four contenders in the 2013 WTA Championships, as we reach the semi-final stage in Istanbul.
Friday's play provided another winner for this column in what’s been a very profitable week so far, as Petra Kvitova got the better of Angelique Kerber in three sets.
Elsewhere, Na Li qualified with a simple win over an injured Vika Azarenka, who’s endured a nightmare end to the season. This time it was the back that let the Belarusian down early on in a match, in which she probably should have retired.
That win for Li gave Jelena Jankovic a pass to the semis as well and made the day’s final game between the Serb and Sara Errani a gimme for the Italian, as Jankovic over-pressed to get things done quickly.
Petra Kvitova vs Na Li
The matches begin earlier in Istanbul today, with this 1pm UK time match opening singles proceedings. It will be the seventh career meeting between this pair.
The series is currently tied at 3-3 and the favourite has been beaten three times in the six match series so far, with Li going off as the odds-on shot today in what will be their first ever meeting in indoor hard.
Li certainly has the advantage in terms of energy used yesterday, as her match lasted just 77 minutes. Kvitova took 127 minutes to get past Kerber, but both have played seven sets to reach this stage.
The Chinese player has never made it past the group stages of this tournament before and she’s already admitted suffering with nerves here in Istanbul. That will presumably only get worse as she gets closer to the final.
She has a losing record of 16-23 in tour level semi-finals and has lost three of her five so far in 2013, while Kvitova has a winning 15-9 record and has won her last five straight.
I personally would regard Kvitova as the stronger player mentally, but as we know her level of play does tend to dip - as does Li’s - but there is also Li’s excellent record against lefties to take into account.
Li has a 42-11 career record against southpaws and she’ll be confident coming into this, but I don’t like her as favourite here at 1.67.
Kvitova’s record on indoor hard is much the better, with Li never having won a tour level title in these conditions, while Petra has three and a superior win/loss ratio. This has all the makings of yet another three setter for Kvitova.
It’s a tight call in the match betting, with the value on Kvitova slightly, but the way these two play leads me to back over 2.5 sets at 2.33.
The second semi-final between Williams and Jankovic will surely go the way of Serena and I won’t be betting in that match, with the American prohibitively short at 1.04 and in supreme form at the moment.
Back over 2.5 sets in Kvitova vs Li at 2.33
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