Once again women’s tennis proved itself the most unpredictable of sports in the semi finals of the WTA Championships in Istanbul.
A real lack of energy cost Petra Kvitova any chance against Na Li on Saturday, as a flat and fatigued Kvitova was swept aside comfortably by the Chinese player before Serena Williams also struggled against Jelena Jankovic.
It certainly wasn’t the Williams that we’d all seen in Istanbul up until Saturday and despite scraping throigh to today's final, the world number one seemed to be below par due to some sort of injury, or at least those were the outward signs.
So, Sunday’s final at around 3pm UK time will be first time finalist Li taking on Williams for the 11th time in their careers, with Serena leading the series 9-1 and having won the last eight in a row – seven of them in straight sets.
It’s fair to say that Li has her work cut out then – or does she?
Well, on paper she certainly does, but how fit are both players as we head into the last match of the season? Especially Williams, having played a monumental schedule of 83 matches this year, which is a huge amount and by far her busiest season on tour.
Serena played 64 last season and 63 back in 2009, but even those campaigns seem light compared with 2013 and as a comparison, Li has played 59 so far in 2013.
Vika Azarenka managed 81 last season but it took its toll. Serena is asking a lot of herself and it almost cost her a place in the final here.
After the Jankovic match, Williams bemoaned her physical state, of which she described herself as “so tired” and of how she “hit the wall” after her previous match.
I suspect, though, that we’ll see the world number one come out fresh enough to land another title and assuming that to be the case it’s tough to see what Li can do to stem the tide of her run of defeats to Williams.
There’s a distinct possibility that Serena simply lost focus during the Jankovic match, due to the ease that she’s been winning her matches and the chances are that we’ll see her best form when it matters most today.
Serena’s record in finals is beyond question, with 54 wins and 17 losses in her career, including 17 wins from her last 19 finals, while Li is 7-10 in finals at tour level and she’s lost five of her last seven.
To that end I can’t see much further than a 2-0 Williams win here at around 1.60.
Back Williams to beat Li 2-0 at 1.60.