>> Friday, May 18, 2012
In what should have been a semifinal showdown between one-time Grand Slam winners and multi-Grand Slam titlists, a vastly improving German player beat current Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova to book a semi-final date with defending champion and world no. 2 Maria Sharapova. Angelique Kerber is the only semi-finalist without a major win but she will become the newest member of the WTA world's top 10 when the rankings get published on Monday. She advanced by beating Kvitova in a see-saw three set victory 76(2) 16 61. Kerber will take on Sharapova for a slot in the finals while in the other semi, a rampaging Serena Williams will battle French Open champ Na Li.
Watch the exciting tennis live online featuring Serena vs Li and Sharapova vs Kerber Live in Rome's 2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Saturday here.
Kerber will fancy her chances against Sharapova. She beat the Russian on her way to the first ever WTA title in Paris in February after falling to the world no. 2 at the Australian Open. Kerber also has won six matches in her last ten meetings with top 10 players. This would be the third time the pair would meet, and their past two meetings have been held this year. Both players have won a title in clay - Sharapova in Stuttgart, and Kerber in Copenhagen - but this would be their first meeting in clay. Sharapova advanced by defeating Venus Williams in a straight set 64 63 victory. It is Sharapova's second consecutive win against a former top ranked player in this tournament as she also eliminated Ana Ivanovic in the previous round.
The other semifinal will feature the defending French Open champion Na Li against the top player on clay this year, Serena Williams. Li advanced with a 61 76(4) victory over no. 14-seed Dominika Cibulkova after holding a 4-0 lead in the second set. In Serena, Li will be facing a player who is having her best streak on clay, a 17-match win streak that included titles in Charleston and Madrid last week. The American advanced to the semi-finals with an abbreviated victory over an injured Flavia Pennetta. The former Rome champion was ahead 4-0 in the first set when the Italian retired with a right wrist injury.
Serena is considered a front-runner for this year's second Grand Slam after her dominant wins in both above mentioned tournaments, that included routs of world no. 1 Azarenka, Sharapova, and no. 5 Samantha Stosur. Serena holds a commanding 5-1 career head-to-head advantage over Li but the pair haven't played since 2010. This will be their first meeting on clay.
Serena Williams vs Na Li: Head-to-Head - Serena leads 5-1
2006 AUSTRALIAN OPEN HARD R128 S. Williams 6-3 6-7(1) 6-2
2008 STUTTGART HARD R16 N.Li 0-6 6-1 6-4
2009 MIAMI HARD Q S. Williams 4-6 7-6(1) 6-2
2009 STANFORD HARD R32 S. Williams 6-3 7-6(6)
2010 AUSTRALIAN OPEN HARD S S. Williams 7-6(4) 7-6(1)
2010 WIMBLEDON GRASS Q S. Williams 7-5 6-3
Watch the exciting 2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia live tennis action from Rome featuring semifinal matches between Sharapova vs Kerber, and, Serena vs Li.