ISTANBUL (AP) — Li Na reached the semifinals of the WTA Championships with a 6-2, 6-1 victory Friday over Victoria Azarenka, who was wincing in pain from a back injury that brought her to tears.
The fourth-seeded Li will play 2011 champion Petra Kvitova, who rallied past Angelique Kerber 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3 in the season-ending tournament that features the top eight players in the world.
Defending champion Serena Williams will play Jelena Jankovic in the semifinal on Saturday. Williams, who swept her group on Thursday, has a 7-4 career edge over Jankovic.
Li and Kvitova are tied 3-3 in career meetings.
Azarenka's loss meant Jankovic advanced to the semifinals before she played Sara Errani later Friday. Errani won that match 6-4, 6-4.
Azarenka hurt her back while serving in the sixth game of the first set and was clearly in pain the rest of the match. The second-ranked Australian Open champion took a medical timeout and received treatment during several changeovers. She stayed on court despite poor movement.
"I just wanted to try to do my best for the fans who came and watched our match, for respect for my opponent," she said. "It was just about trying to do the most you can out there."
Li won the group 3-0, while Azarenka finished 1-2.
Despite failing to reach the semis, Azarenka said she was pleased with her year.
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