All-Chinese Final Set In Shenzhen
Published January 03, 2014 12:14
The No.5-seeded Peng was the first to move through, though it certainly wasn't the way she wanted it - she received a semifinal walkover from Vania King, who had to pull out due to a right thigh injury.
"The injury first started when I played Sara Errani," King said. "I felt some pain in my right leg, which is why I called the injury timeout. I was hoping it would feel better yesterday but it actually started feeling worse. The match was pretty fast so I was able to finish it, but right now it's not doing so well.
"Originally I was going to play Sydney now, but because I did well here I couldn't make it there for the qualifying rounds. So I'll just go to Melbourne and rest up and I should be fine by Australian Open."
King's win over the No.7-ranked Errani in the second round was the biggest win of her career. It was her second overall Top 10 win - she had beaten a No.10-ranked Marion Bartoli at Seoul back in 2011.
"It was a really difficult decision for me to pull out because I hate losing and not competing. I love being out on the court and I'm playing really well right now. But I just have to look out for my health."
The No.1-seeded Li followed Peng into the final later on with a 61 63 win over No.8 seed Annika Beck. Things started getting trickier late in the match - Li was originally up 61 50 before dropping three straight games - but she regrouped just in time, breaking the pattern with a comprehensive hold at 15.
And so, the second all-Chinese final in WTA history is set - and it may come as no surprise that Li was also part of the first one. It came at the clay court event in Oeiras in 2006, where Li was forced to retire against Zheng Jie because of heat illness (read the 40 LOVE feature on that final right here).
Li leads Peng in their head-to-head series, 5-1, including 4-0 on Chinese soil.
"Yesterday's match was good preparation for me, and today was the best match of the week for me so far," Li said afterwards. "It'll be a tough match tomorrow. We're quite familiar with each other and have improved a lot over the last year. But no matter what, I'm quite looking forward to the final."