Saturday, October 25, 2014

WTA FINALS: Wozniacki sets up Serena semi-final on an unforgettable day in Singapore

Wozniacki and Williams at the Mariah Carey concert the night before their semi-final in Singapore. (via Serena Williams' Instagram account)

Caroline Wozniacki is a good friend. So good, that she stepped on court on Friday in Singapore not really needing to win but she gave 100 per cent anyway to rout Petra Kvitova, and in the process, allowed her long-time pal Agnieszka Radwanska to secure a spot in the semi-finals.

Too bad friendship will mean nothing on court today when Wozniacki takes on another BFF, Serena Williams, who clinched the year-end No1 ranking and booked a place in the semis without picking up a racquet on Friday. She did however head to the Mariah Carey concert together with Wozniacki at night, 18 hours before their semi-final showdown.

It will be the fourth meeting of the year between Wozniacki and Williams - the third in two months – and the Dane, who enters the semis undefeated this week, is well aware of her poor record against her.

My matchup against Serena so far hasn't been great,” said Wozniacki after easing past Kvitova 6-2, 6-3 yesterday.

“I won once and lost like ten times, or nine, I don't know. I don't even count anymore. But it's a new tournament. It's a new week. I've been playing well really. I believe that if I play like I did today, doesn't matter who's on the other side. I can win.”

She’s actually 1-9 against Williams, who was only guaranteed a place in the last four after Romania’s Simona Halep took a set off Ana Ivanovic in the last round robin match of the tournament last night.

Ivanovic had to win in straight sets to make it through to the semis but she fell short, beating Halep 7-6 (7), 3-6, 6-3, which was enough to end her season with a WTA-leading 58 wins but not enough to stop Williams from taking second place in the Red Group, behind the Romanian.

It wasn’t the only time things worked in Williams’ favour yesterday – which was one of the most exciting days of this WTA season. The American was locked in a battle with Maria Sharapova over the year-end No1 ranking but that fight was settled when the Russian, who needed a straight sets win, suffered an epic collapse, squandering a 7-5, 5-1 lead and three match points against Radwanska in the first clash of the day.

Sharapova did end up winning, but much like Ivanovic, her 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 triumph was not suffice.

I wanted to end this tournament on a win. It would've been very easy for me to get down on myself (after the second set). Just so easy to just let it go. I didn't, and that's what I wanted for myself today,” said Sharapova.

I got the job done. I know I'm not moving forward, but I'm proud of that effort and to finish the year off on this way.”

Kvitova also refused to be too hard on herself, despite her exit at the hands of Radwanska, saying capturing her second major at Wimbledon over the summer and fighting hard in the Asian swing to qualify for Singapore have made it a season to remember.

Ivanovic shared Sharapova’s positive outlook. The Serb kept her qualification hopes alive by climbing from 2-5 down to win the opening set against Halep but was unable to sustain the intensity, her chances vanishing as she dropped the second set.

It's mixed emotions obviously because I feel like it was such a great match tonight, yet it's such a low not to be able to qualify for the semi-finals,” admits Ivanovic.

After losing the second set it was a little bit hard, but I was very proud to come back and still win.”

Halep admits it was a gruelling affair and said she did everything she could to win, despite knowing she had already punched her ticket to the last four.

Standing between herself and a place in tomorrow’s final is Radwanska, a player she said she had struggled mentally against in the past but one she defeated in Rome last year, which was the start of Halep’s assault on the world rankings.

Asked if she still had any mental block regarding Radwanska, Halep said: “It's gone. It's gone. I won last year against her on clay then I won in Doha, so I have two matches won.

I feel good. I feel prepared to play against her. I'm not afraid. I just want to enjoy it, because it's like the best moment in this year. So nothing to lose tomorrow.”

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