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Serena Vs Li: 20 Things To Know

What's so special about Li Na's only win over Serena Williams? Who's the only men's tennis player ever to win more in a single season than Williams? Want to see the year-end Top 10? It's all here.

Published October 27, 2013 12:10

ISTANBUL, Turkey - It's an historic final for many reasons, so instead of just 10 things, we thought we'd double it today - check out all kinds of stats, nuggets and facts about today's final at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul, pitting World No.1 Serena Williams against World No.5 Li Na.

(play begins at 5pm Istanbul time - watch it live here)

(1) Serena Williams (USA #1) vs (4) Li Na (CHN #5)
Head-To-Head: Serena leads Li, 9-1.

HEAD-TO-HEAD NOTES

Li's only win over Serena did come on indoor hardcourts.
~ Serena and Li have split two meetings on indoor hardcourts, with Li winning in the second round of Stuttgart in 2008, 06 61 64 (with an ace on match point) and Serena winning in the round robin stage right here at the WTA Championships last year, 76(2) 63 (Li actually led 4-1 in the first set).
~ Li quote after last year's round robin match: "When you play Serena, you have to focus every second. If you lose concentration for one second, she'll kill you straight away. I was really focused at the beginning of the match today, and then I slowed down a little bit and she turned it around."

Serena has won 31 of her last 33 matches against Top 5 players.
~ In a stretch that goes back to Wimbledon in 2011, Serena has only lost 2 of 33 matches against Top 5 players (both losses to Azarenka this year, both in three sets, in the Doha and Cincinnati finals).

Li has two wins over World No.1s, and one of them was over Serena.
~ Li has two wins over World No.1s, first the aforementioned match against Serena at Stuttgart in 2008 (it was Serena's first match after winning the US Open and returning to No.1) and beating Wozniacki in the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2011, 36 75 63 (saved match point down 63 54).

30-SOMETHING NOTES

Today's winner will be the oldest ever WTA Championships winner - yes, Li too.
~ At 31 years and 1 month, Serena set the record for oldest champion ever at this event in 2012. At 32 years and 1 month and 31 years and 8 months respectively, Serena and Li would both beat that today.

This is the first time there has been an all-30-something final at the WTA Championships.
~ The only time two 30-somethings were even in the final four together was 1973, and one of them didn't make the final (in 1973, 30-year-old Durr was a semifinalist and 31-year-old Richey runner-up).

Li is trying to become the third 30-something ever to beat No.1 and No.2 at the same event.
~ Li beat No.2 Azarenka in the round robin and is going after No.1 Serena today.
~ Only two 30-somethings have ever beaten the Top 2 at the same tournament: Pierce at the 2005 WTA Championships (No.2 Clijsters and No.1 Davenport) and Serena twice, at 2012 Madrid (No.2 Sharapova and No.1 Azarenka) and 2012 WTA Championships (No.1 Azarenka and No.2 Sharapova).

Li is trying to become just the fifth 30-something ever to beat Serena.
~ Only four 30-somethings have ever beaten Serena before - Tauziat (Paris [Indoors] in 2000), Farina Elia (Amelia Island in 2005), Craybas (Wimbledon in 2005) and Schnyder (Rome in 2009). Tauziat and Farina Elia were 32, Craybas and Schnyder 30 (so Li would be the third-oldest player to beat her).

PRIZE MONEY NOTES

Serena will have the highest single season earnings in women's tennis history.
~ Serena will have $12,385,572 on the season if she wins today and $11,330,572 on the season if she loses. She has already surpassed the previous women's record ($7,923,920 - Azarenka in 2012).

Serena will have the third-highest single season earnings in tennis history - male or female.
~ Win or lose today, Serena will have the third-highest single season earnings in tennis history, male or female. Djokovic won more in two seasons ($12,619,803 in 2011 and $12,803,737 in 2012).

TITLE NOTES

Serena is trying to become the fourth player to win the WTA Championships four or more times.
~ Serena is going for her fourth WTA Championships title, having won it in 2001, 2009 and 2012. Only three other players have won it four or more times - Navratilova (8), Graf (5) and Evert (4).

If Serena wins, she will be the eighth player in the Open Era to win 11+ WTA titles in a year.
~ Only seven players have done this before: Navratilova (seven times), Evert (five times), Court (four times), Graf (three times), King (one time), Austin (one time) and Hingis (one time).
~ Hingis was the last player to do it (she won 12 WTA titles in 1997).

RANKING NOTES

Serena will be year-end World No.1 for the third time.
~ Serena had year-end No.1 locked in a while ago. Having been year-end No.1 twice before, in 2002 and 2009, she is the seventh player to do it three or more times, after Graf (eight times), Navratilova (seven), Evert (five times), Davenport (four times), Hingis (three times) and Henin (three times).

Li will be World No.3 on Monday, the highest-ranked Asian player ever.
~ Li will go from No.5 to No.3 on Monday, surpassing her previous career-high of No.4, where she has been tied with Date-Krumm for the highest ranking ever for an Asian player, male or female.

The year-end Top 10 is locked in.
~ These are the ranking projections for Monday, and the results in Sofia this week won't affect them.
  1. Serena Williams
  2. Victoria Azarenka
  3. Li Na
  4. Maria Sharapova
  5. Agnieszka Radwanska
  6. Petra Kvitova
  7. Sara Errani
  8. Jelena Jankovic
  9. Angelique Kerber
10. Caroline Wozniacki

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES

Li is the first Asian player ever to reach the final at this event.
~ Before this year, only one Asian player had even reached the final four (Date-Krumm in 1994).

If Serena wins, she will have the best single season winning % since 1989 (50+ wins only).
~ Serena is 77-4 on the season going into the final and a 78-4 record on the season would be a .951 winning percentage (the highest since Graf went 75-2 and .974 in 1989).

Serena and Li each lost just one set en route to the final - and against the same player.
~ Serena lost one to Jankovic in the semis (64 26 64); Li lost one to her in the round robin (63 26 63).

Serena is trying to be the first No.1 seed to win here since 2007 (Henin).

Serena is trying to be the first player to win back-to-back titles here since 2006-2007 (Henin).

Serena has the second-longest winning streak in WTA Championships history.
~ Serena has won 14 matches in a row at this event now (5-0 in 2009, 5-0 in 2012 and 4-0 so far in 2013). Only Navratilova has had a longer winning streak here (she won 21 in a row from 1983 to 1987).

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