Li Na rallied from dropping the first set and trailing 3-5 in the third set to defeat countrywoman Peng Shuai 4-6 6-2 7-6 (3) to reach the quarterfinals of the 2012 China Open. Li’s high risk-high reward style does tend to lead to streaky play and tight three setters. However, she will need to be more consistent if she wants to get past quarterfinal opponent Agnieszka Radwanska. It’s rare that Aga will beat herself these days, so her opponents must avoid committing a lot of unforced errors and making things easy for Radwanska. Should Li win her match against Aga, she will clinch the final spot in the WTA Tour Championship in Istanbul. However, even should Li not win, the only person who can keep her out is Marion Bartoli, but Marion would have to win Beijing and Moscow to do so. Anything can happen, but I don’t think that will. On a side note, Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber and Sara Errani filled out 3 of the 4 remaining spots in Turkey.
Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka both kept playing like they are going to end up settling this matter in the final. Vika took out Elena Vesnina 3 and 3, while Masha won the first 8 games of her match against Polona Hercog before dismissing her love and 2. Again, anything can happen in sports, but Vika looks strong on her side of the draw. She will be the overwhelming favorite against the 3 other players on her side of the draw, Romina Oprandi, Marion Bartoli and Carla Suarez Navarro. On the other hand, while Masha is the top seed in her half of the draw, Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na represent a far greater challenge, at least on paper.
Singles – Third Round
(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (Q) Elena Vesnina (RUS) 63 63
(2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (Q) Polona Hercog (SLO) 60 62
(5) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. (10) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 61 26 64
(7) Li Na (CHN) d. Peng Shuai (CHN) 46 62 76(3)
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