China's Li Na has ensured there will be no change to the women's world number one ranking until at least the Australian Open after a fighting three-set win over Petra Kvitova in the semi-finals of the Sydney International.
Defending champion Li, her country's sole major singles winner after claiming last year's French Open crown, recovered from a set and a break down to beat the Czech 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.
She will meet the third-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who defeated Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in the second semi-final 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.
"The way she (Kvitova) was playing in the first set I didn't know what to do. Give up? I couldn't do anything," Li said.
Kvitova recognised that she was not clinical enough, and after dominating the opening set she gave Li chances to get back into the contest.
"I played very well the first set. I was the one who made the winners ... And then in the second set, I gave her a lot of chances and she did it," she said.
"It's tennis, so it's still up and down."
With current world number one Caroline Wozniacki's loss in Wednesday's quarter-final to Radwanska, the door was left open for Kvitova to assume the mantle of the top player in women's tennis, assuming she won the Sydney title on Friday night.
But Kvitova was tripped up at the penultimate hurdle by the world number five.
After being outclassed for a set and a half, Li suddenly bounced back from 1-3 down in the second set to draw level before snatching a break in the pivotal 11th game and then going on to serve out the set.
The deciding set was mostly one-way traffic.
Li enjoyed an early break before the Wimbledon champion had a brief sniff to get back into the contest with a break point at 2-3.
But after Li consolidated her break she took out the next two games and the match.
Li is no stranger to a comeback on centre court in Sydney having recovered from 5-0 down in the first set of last year's final to beat Kim Clijsters in straight sets.
AAPTags: tennis, sport, sydney-2000 First posted January 12, 2012 17:55:41