Li eases into Shenzhen Open final

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iol spt jan3 Li Na REUTERS File picture. Chinese tennis star Li Na cruised into the final of the Shenzhen Open with a straight sets victory over compatriot Peng Shuai. Photo by: Chaiwat Subprasom.

Beijing – Chinese tennis star Li Na cruised into the final of the Shenzhen Open with a straight sets victory in her semi-final match Friday, putting her in pole position to claim her seventh WTA singles title.

The world number seven is the firm favourite to take the trophy on home soil on Saturday when she faces off against Czech Klara Zakopalova, who is ranked 21 places below her.

The Chinese number one and top seed beat compatriot Peng Shuai 6-4, 6-0 in one hour 13 minutes to set up the final with fifth seed Zakapalova, who had earlier defeated Romanian Monica Niculescu.

Zakapalova took just one hour six minutes to claim a 6-1, 6-3 victory in her semi-final.

The Shenzhen Open -- carrying total prize money of $500,000 -- is being played for the first time as tennis expands in China on the back of Li's huge popularity.

Li's last singles title was at the 2012 Western and Southern Open in the United States in August -- her first since she became a sporting icon in her own country by winning the 2011 French Open. – AFP


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