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Serena Williams advances to Key Biscayne semis


Serena Williams returns to Li Na, of China, during the Sony Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla., Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Williams won 6-3, 7-6(5). (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

KEY BISCAYNE, Florida — Five-time champion Serena Williams advanced Tuesday to the Sony Open semifinals and tied the women’s record for career victories in the tournament by beating No. 5-seeded Li Na 6-3, 7-6 (5).

The top-ranked Williams overcame six double-faults and rallied in the second set from a 5-2 deficit. She hit six winners in the tiebreaker, including a forehand passing shot cross-court on the final point.

Williams, who won her most recent Key Biscayne title in 2008, improved to 59-7 in the tournament. Steffi Graf, another five-time champion, went 59-6.

“I hope to get more,” Williams said.

No. 2 Andy Murray, the champion in 2009 and runner-up last year, returned to the quarterfinals by beating No. 16 Andreas Seppi 6-2, 6-4. No. 8 Richard Gasquet hit 17 aces, including three in the final tiebreaker, and advanced to his first Key Biscayne quarterfinal by beating No. 10 Nicolas Almagro 6-7 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (3).

No. 3 David Ferrer beat No. 13 Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2. Ferrer’s next opponent will be unseeded Jurgen Melzer, who rallied past Albert Ramos 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Sam Querrey lost his fourth-round match, and for the first time the tournament will have no American in the men’s quarterfinals.

Querrey, playing his first tournament as the top-ranked American on the ATP Tour, lost to Tomas Berdych 6-1, 6-1 in 50 minutes.

On a breezy, sun-splashed afternoon, Williams and Li both struggled with their second serve.

“It was like, ‘Look, I just can’t hit any more double-faults,’” Williams said. “It’s embarrassing and unprofessional. I hit about 50 in one game, and it was just outrageous.”

Li had seven double-faults, with three giving Williams her only break points.

In the tiebreaker, Williams didn’t need a second serve. She hit consecutive service winners for a 4-3 lead, then two more to go up 6-5.

When Williams smacked a winner on match point she jumped for joy cannonball-style, knees high and fist raised.

“I don’t usually leap like that in the quarterfinal,” she said. “But it was just a good shot.”

Williams, who is assured of remaining No. 1 next week, will play Thursday against the winner of the quarterfinal Tuesday night between defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 30-seeded Kirsten Flipkens.


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