Azarenka beats Li Na, secures year-end No. 1 ranking
Istanbul, Turkey (4E Sports) – Victoria Azarenka of Belarus ousted Li Na of China, 7-6 (4), 6-3, Friday to secure the year-end No. 1 ranking and a semifinal spot in the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul 2012.
“It’s a dream come true and I feel great,” Azarenka said after the win. “Now I just want to play my last matches of the year and then after that I can relax and enjoy this moment more. Right now I’m in competition and trying to focus on every single day – there’s still a lot of challenge in this tournament.”
Azarenka clinched the victory despite committing 25 unforced errors. She will face No. 2 Maria Sharapova in the semifinal. Azarenka leads Sharapova in the head-to-head series, 7-4, and has won their last six hardcourt meetings.
Sharapova earlier beat Samantha Stosur, 6-0, 6-3, to clinch the other semifinal berth.
Meanwhile, world No. 1 Roger Federer eliminated Benoit Paire, 6-2, 6-2, Friday to reach the semifinal round of the Swiss Indoors Basel for the 10th time.
The top seed Federer broke the Frenchman twice in each set to advance in just 54 minutes. Eyeing his seventh straight final appearance in the event, the top seed has won 32 of his last 33 matches in Basel.
Federer will take on wild card Paul-Henri Mathieu, who edged Grigor Dimitrov, 7-6(2), 7-6(4), in their first encounter. Federer has won all five of his previous matches with Mathieu.
“It was not easy, especially in the second set,” Mathieu said. “He played a good game on my serve when I was 5-3 up, and it was really tight at the end of the match. I was really happy with the victory.”
One day after securing his qualification for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Juan Martin del Potro booked his place in the semifinals with a win over South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-2.
“He had the chance to win the match in the second set, but I held him back in the tie-break,” said del Potro. “In the end I played much better. I broke his serve early in the third set and that gave me the confidence to play my game until the last point. That was the key to the match.”
In the semifinal, del Potro will face Richard Gasquet, who denied Mikhail Youzhny of Russia his 400th match win, prevailing 6-2, 7-6(5) in one hour and 44 minutes.
Meanwhile, top seed David Ferrer continued his mastery of fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, scoring a 6-3, 7-5 victory Friday to reach the Valencia Open 500 semifinal.
Ferrer saved all four break points he faced to clinch the win in 82 minutes and improve to 12-0 against Almagro.
Ferrer next will meet Ivan Dodig, who defeated Croatian countryman and seventh seed Marin Cilic, 6-2, 7-6(6).
World No. 38 Jurgen Melzer defeated Belgian David Goffin 7-6(7), 6-4 to arrange a semifinal clash against Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, who dismissed defending champion Marcel Granollers of Spain, 6-0, 6-2 in just 62 minutes.