at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Montreal - China's Li Na moved one win away from claiming her maiden title of 2012 after staging an impressive comeback to defeat Czech Lucie Safarova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the semi-finals of the Montreal Cup on Sunday.
The former French Open, who will face either Petra Kvitova or Caroline Wozniacki in Monday's final, stormed back from the brink after trailing 16th-seeded Safarova 1-5 in the final set.
The change in momentum came as much from Safarova losing her composure as Li eradicating errors from her own game. But the drama did not end there as Li double faulted twice in succession at 6-5 in the final set before serving out the match.
The 10th-seed said she simply tried to keep the ball in the play during the final games of the one hour, 54 minute match in the hope her rival would begin to err.
“”This is tennis. You have to put the ball back to the court and over the net,” Li told reporters. “”Looks like (it is) easy but sometimes I couldn't do it. It's simple, but sometimes it's tough to do.”
Safarova, who troubled Li with her swinging left-handed serve for much of the match until faltering, admitted she felt nervous when twice serving for the match.
“”Of course, closing (the) match is always a little bit (of a) nervous moment,” she said. “”She used that situation to turn it over and then she was serving very well. She just started to play much better until that moment and it just slipped away.”
Although the 25-year-old Czech will secure a top 20 ranking for the first time in her career, Safarova was disappointed at blowing a chance to secure her second career title by winning the $2-million event.
Li, who thrashed world number three Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 in the quarter-finals, has reached finals in Sydney and Rome in 2012.
The 30-year-old, whose last title was the 2011 French Open, will return to the top 10 at the completion of this event. - Reuters