Azarenka seals year-end top spot
Victoria Azarenka ensured herself the year-end number one spot with a straight-sets win over Li Na in the WTA Championships in Istanbul.
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The Belarus player and number one seed defeated her eighth-seeded Chinese opponent after being pushed hard in the opening set.
Azarenka went to take it on the tie-break before dominating the second set to win 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 and clinch a place in the semi-finals of the tournament.
Azarenka was thrilled with her achievement in securing the year-end world number one spot.
"It's a dream come true and I feel great," she told the WTA's official website.
"Now I just want to play my last matches of the year and then after that I can relax and enjoy this moment more. Right now I'm in competition and trying to focus on every single day - there's still a lot of challenge in this tournament."
The 23-year-old will face world number two Maria Sharapova in the last four on Saturday. She leads the Russian 7-4 in head-to-head meetings and has won their last six hardcourt encounters.
On her victory over Li, Azarenka reflected: "I felt like the first set was a bit of a rollercoaster - she was playing well at some points and I was playing well at some points, and we're both big shot-makers, so it all depended on who was getting control at what time.
"The momentum was going back and forth, but I'm glad I stayed through it and fought hard, even though I didn't feel I was executing well."
Earlier in the day Sharapova swept past Sam Stosur 6-0 6-3 to keep her hopes of claiming the top ranking alive but Azarenka's win a few hours later extinguished such hopes.
The Russian second seed made it three wins but was already qualified for the semi-finals before she faced Australian Stosur, who had replaced defending champion Petra Kvitova after the Czech Republic player withdrew with illness.
Meanwhile, Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, reached the semi-finals when she edged Sara Errani of Italy 6-7 (6/8) 7-5 6-4 in a match that lasted three-and-a-half hours.
The fourth-ranked Radwanska will now play Serena Williams on Saturday after the American finished her three group matches undefeated.