at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Sydney – Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska fought off former winner Li Na to reach the final of the Sydney International on the back of her eighth consecutive win on Thursday.
Radwanska needed seven match points to finally clinch a 6-3, 6-4 victory in one hour and 32 minutes over the Chinese star on the Ken Rosewall Arena.
The world number four will play either German second seed Angelique Kerber or Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova in Friday's decider.
Radwanska became the first top seed to reach the Sydney final since American Serena Williams three years ago.
She is in hot form ahead of next week's Australian Open in Melbourne after a victory in Auckland last week, where she beat Yanina Wickmayer to lift the trophy.
The top seed said the number of her match points provoked memories of her victory in the Auckland final last week.
“It was kind of like a deja-vu from the Auckland final. I had also I think seven, eight match points before I win this final, so very similar situation,” she said.
Radwanska said her constant new-season match schedule was not an issue heading into the Australian Open.
“Actually today when I was going on court, it was if I win, great; if not, it's not that big a deal because I really have had a lot of matches here and in Auckland,” she said.
“I'm really ready for the Australian Open. But I always go on court to win. I will do of course everything to win the final tomorrow as well, and we'll see. I wish to win 16 matches in a row (if she wins the Open).”
For Li, who won the title in Shenzhen last week, it was her first defeat in nine matches in the new season.
She fought hard against the Pole but errors at crucial times ultimately cost her the match.
The Chinese star, who won in Sydney two years ago, netted a drop shot from the baseline on set point and then lost the match with another netted drop shot.
“I was always feeling like I had a chance. Even the chair umpire didn't say finish, (so) everyone has the chance,” Li said.
Li was satisfied with her week's work after her tough playing schedule at the onset of the new year.
“I'm made the semis. Why should I be sad?” she said. “It's my first loss for this year so it's a pretty good experience, right?”
It was Li's ninth match in 10 days and she said it took her time to recover between points during the semi.
“It's tough, challenging. You have to travel, you have to play the match, you have to change the conditions, you have to change everything,” she said. – Sapa-AFP