Serena Williams defeated China's Li Na on Wednesday at the 2012 TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul in straight sets 7-6(2), 6-3. With two wins from her opening two matches so far in Istanbul, it would now take an unlikely passage of events to deny Serena a place in the final four.
Williams had six double-faults and won only 51 percent of points on her first serve. But Li also struggled on serve—there were eight breaks in the first set and three more in the second.
The tone was set early on, as Serena secured a break in the opening game with a running forehand winner. Li hit back immediately reeling off the next four games. Serena regained parity before a flurry of further breaks sent the set into a tie-break. At one point, Serena grew frustrated at dropping serve that she uncharacteristically smashed her racket.
"I started out really strong in the first game, but then started making errors, and Li started playing her game and playing it well," Serena said. "I was a little tight and my serve wasn't working at all today. The good thing is I can only play better."
Serena has won 28 of her past 29 matches and captured Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Olympic titles this year. The highest ranking she can achieve at the end of the year is number two because of injuries and missed tournaments.