Li and Kerber to play in Cincinnati final

Tomorrow, for the second week in a row, Li Na will have a chance to win her first title of 2012. Li beat an ailing Venus Williams 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 in a semifinal that had its good moments, but that was inconsistently played by both opponents. Williams' back was bothering her from the moment she stepped onto the court, but she kept right on playing.

In the other semifinal, the relentless Angelique Kerber got her eighth win over a top 10 player this year when she beat Petra Kvitova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. "She didn't know what's going on," Kvitova's coach said of the 4th seed's first set performance. She didn't. She redeemed herself in the second set--in a big way--but you know Petra. By the time the third set rolled around, she was engaging in yet another festival of unforced errors, and Kerber is getting harder and harder to put away these days, even when her opponent is playing better than Kvitova did.

After Kerber went up 5-2 in the third, Kvitova broke her. Kerber then had a match point on her opponent's serve when Kvitova hit a forehand error outside of the ad court. Kvitova saved the point with an ace, and went on to hold for 4-5. Kerber soon had two match points on her own serve, one of which Kvitova saved, but the German player took the match on her third match point.

Kerber, seeded 5th, hit 16 winners and made 19 unforced errors. Kvitova hit 44 winners and made 56 unforced errors. The math says it all.

The Czech team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka will compete in the doubles final against Katarina Srebotnik and Zheng Jie. Srebotnik and Zheng defeated Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez today in the semifinals.

If Kvitova had won her semifinal match, she would have also won the U.S. Open Series. But with her loss to Kerber, the series remains open for someone to win.