ISTANBUL - Li Na advanced to her first WTA Championships final by sweeping past 2011 winner Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday.
By reaching the final, where she'll face either Serena Williams or Jelena Jankovic, Li made sure of rising to a career-high No. 3 ranking, a jump of two places.
Li is unbeaten in four matches in the tournament, after failing to advance from the group stage in the previous two years.
Williams and Li are the two oldest players in the elite tournament that brings together the top eight players in the world, while the fifth-seeded Kvitova is the youngest at 23. Williams played Jankovic in the second semifinal.
Li began the match by breaking serve and raced to a 3-0 lead, before allowing Kvitova to come back at 4-4.
But a backhand winner from Li broke Kvitova's serve again and she closed out the set with a cross-court forehand followed by a service winner.
Kvitova had no reply to Li's forehand and was broken again in the second set to fall behind 3-2. After saving a break point, Li hit an ace to go up 4-2.
Kvitova dropped serve again and netted a backhand on Li's second match point for her 29th unforced error.
Li now holds a 4-3 career edge over Kvitova, who won Wimbledon in 2011 — the same year Li won the French Open.
This is only the second time in the history of the championships that two players over the age of 30 — Williams at 32 and Li at 31 — have made it to the last four.