MIAMI, April 2 – American Serena Williams survived a scare from China's Li Na to advance to the semi-finals of the ATP and WTA tournament where she awaits a tussle against her sister.
The top-seeded Serena Williams lost the first five games but rallied to beat Li 4-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
She will face sister Venus Williams who earned a semi-final berth with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Czech Iveta Benesova.
Ask to explain what went wrong early against unseeded Li, Serena said she couldn’t get going, "I don’t know. I just had a really slow, retarded start."
Serena Williams was on the verge of defeat, but Li failed to convert all six of her break-point chances in the pivotal second set.
"She didn’t give me any chance," Li said. "I had six or seven break points but I didn’t hold for one point. In the final set she played much better. In the first set she didn’t try 100 percent."
Williams is seeking her sixth Miami title, which would break the record she shares with Steffi Graf.
The other semi-final on Thursday will be between eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova and No. 11 Victoria Azarenka.
Serena said she would give herself a failing grade for the first set on Wednesday.
"If I was in school and I was like a professor and I had to give myself a grade, I would give myself like an eight percent out of 100."
Asked if she would remember this match and try to learn from her mistakes, Serena said, "I’m thinking about shredding the DVD too."
She said she usually talks more out loud when she is on her game and that didn’t happen against Li.
"I wasn’t as upbeat and spirited as I normally am. I think maybe one or two ‘come ons’ during the whole match which is not really normal for me."
Serena said she expects to play better against three-time champ Venus in the semi-finals.
"I am always going to be up for V," Serena said. "Because she’s playing really well and always playing me super tough.
"It is like I automatically have to be on a different level because she’s already playing a different level.
"Her balls are harder and her serve is way bigger. It is like I have to be there. And it is super fun to hit those serves that are like 120. It is frustrating but at the same time fun."
Said Venus, "Everybody is different. You got to play with what you have. Our styles are a little different.
"So, you know, or core beliefs and our core is very similar. The difference in our game would be down to personality. Just how each person is different, the personality, that makes your game different."
Venus said her parents like to see them share the wealth when it comes to head-to-head sibling matches.
"They just want the one to win who hasn’t had as much luck or didn’t win the last time. Pretty much comes down to that," Venus said.
Li was the third Chinese player, Serena had defeated in a row. Serena also beat Zheng Jie 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 and Peng Shuai 7-5, 6-2.
"I was feeling like she play Fed Cup, three in a row Chinese players," Li said. "Good for the Chinese. They have more experience to play No. 1 in the world."