Thursday was women’s semi final day at the Miami Open, with all the semi finalists now in the top ten on the WTA rankings. Top seed Serena Williams played 4th seed Maria Sharapova in the afternoon match and 2nd seed Na Li took on the challenge of 10th seed Dominika Cibulkova – who is now in the top ten by virtue of reaching these semis – in the night match.
Williams led the head to head against Sharapova 15-2, with the American winning 14 in a row since 2005. Sharapova got the match underway and both players held their serve before the Russian took the next three games in a row. Serena broke back to level at 4-4, broke and served out the set at 6-4 after her serve started firing. Sharapova started the second set and, as in the first, held and broke. Serena got on the scoreboard and drew level at 2-2 and then broke again to go 4-3 ahead. She took the next two games too, to wrap up the set 6-3 and move into the final.
2nd seed Li and 19th seed Cibulkova played under the lights in a rematch of this year’s Aussie Open final. The Slovak broke in the first game and led 2-0 before Li took three games in a row. Both players then held before Li broke again for 5-3, but Cibulkova broke yet again and saved two set points to level at 5-5. Li held and then broke the Slovak to love to take the set 7-5. Cibulkova broke in the first game of the second set and neither player held until the 6th game, when the Slovak got to 4-2. She broke again in the 8th game and held to take the set 6-2 with great serving (85% of first serves) and dogged determination. Yet again Cibulkova broke in the first game of the decider and took her 6th game in a row to lead 2-0. Games then went with serve until Li broke to level at 3-3, upped her game and took the last three for the set at 6-3 after 2 and a quarter hours – and go into her 21st WTA final.