By Phoebe Ho
TORONTO, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- China's Li Na and world No. 1 Serena Williams are each just one match away from their eighth meeting after both secured the WTA Rogers Cup semifinal berths here on Friday.
All that's left standing between the two players are third seed Agnieszka Radwanska and Sorana Cirstea -- an unseeded Romanian player who upset Rogers Cup defending champion Petra Kvitova to reach the semis earlier in the day.
If everything goes well for both players at the semis, it could prove to be a tough finals match for Li, who's only won once against the American top seed.
Serving up seven aces and claiming six service breaks, Williams dispatched Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova within one hour with no trouble by two straight sets 6-1, 6-1.
"I'm definitely feeling pretty good, playing much better than I have in the past month, I would say," said Williams after the match. "So I'm glad I am getting back to the feeling and getting into some rhythm."
Rybarikova didn't stand a chance in the quarterfinals against Williams' formidable groundstrokes, which sent her unseeded opponent scrambling across the court.
But Rybarikova fought valiantly, holding out some longer rallies and scoring some impressive shots.
Williams said she was "happier" with her own return game today.
"Still can use some improvement," she said. "She served pretty well, but I was pretty happy with the results."
Earlier Friday, China's only Grand Slam singles winner Li defeated Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (1), 6-2 to advance into the semi-finals.
Li, who won their three previous clashes, overpowered and outplayed the Slovak player at every turn, taking another win against the world-ranked 20th Cibulkova.
The 24-year-old player shocked tennis fans twice earlier in the week when she took out world No. 9 Angelique Kerber in the first round, and No. 10 seed Roberta Vinci in the third. But that wasn't enough to defeat Li -- the runner-up of last year's Rogers Cup -- who played a steady and strong match Friday.
Cibulkova was whipping balls down Li's court with brute force the entire way, but the strong baseline player returned the balls with equal power and eventually won the first set in a tie-break.
"I was feeling a little bit different than yesterday because the opponent hit the ball different, but I was feeling today is even more tired than yesterday," said Li Na, who defeated Serbia's Ana Ivanovic in a close battle by 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5) in the third round.
Li got an early lead on Cibulkova early in the second set, and won it with ease. Her semi-finals opponent was set after Romania's Sorana Cirstea upset Kvitova 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Cirstea said she's looking forward to facing Li again.
"I have actually played Li Na quite a few times now," she told reporters. "It's going to be a very, very good match. She's always a very solid player, she's quite aggressive... I want to give my best tomorrow and have a good match no matter what the outcome."
Just to do the same things I have done till now, you know, just focus on my side of the court," she added.
Kvitova who lost a series of shots with 10 double faults said her exhaustion got the better of her at the match.
"When I finished so late the match here, I didn't sleep well after this. I mean, the sleep is, for me, it's very important, I think the (most) important thing for my recovery," Kvitova explained. "So in the third set and in the beginning, I had a chance to keep my serve first game, and it was some mistakes, and it was quite tough to come back in the third again."
There was a major upset in the doubles tournament, as Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski and Sharon Fichman, who got into Rogers Cup with a wild card, defeated the top ranked Italian duo Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 6-7 (4), 6-2, 10-5.