Serena Williams
Serena Williams of the U.S.A returns a shot to Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic during their tennis match at the WTA championship in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 Photo by AP
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Top-ranked Serena Williams advanced to the semifinals of the WTA Championships by sweeping past Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-3 yesterday.

Williams, the defending champion, won all three matches in her group without dropping a set. She’s bidding for her fourth title in the elite, eight-woman tournament.

Earlier, Li Na outlasted Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 for her second victory in two matches and eighth-seeded Angelique Kerber upset No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-2 to remain in contention for the semifinals. Radwanska was eliminated. Kerber went 0-3 last year in the tournament and this was her first win in the event. She will play Kvitova on Friday for a slot in the last four.

Williams needed to win only a set to qualify and she breezed through the first despite fighting off two break points in the very first game. She quickly warmed up to overwhelm the fifth-seeded Kvitova, who won Wimbledon and the WTA title in 2011. Kvitova had to withdraw last year because of injury.

Williams did not stop after the first set and broke serve again for a decisive 3-1 lead in the second. Williams set up a match point with a service winner and won the match when Kvitova’s return sailed into the net.

Williams, 32, is enjoying the finest season in her career, having already won 10 titles. She has clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking for the third time in her career after 2002 and 2009.