Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki dispatched No. 2 Vera Zvonareva 7-5, 6-0 to set up a WTA Championships final against Kim Clijsters on Saturday.
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Wozniacki, the youngest player to end the year No. 1 since Martina Hingis in 2000, raced to 4-1 and then had to snuff out a comeback from the in-form Russian to win the first set. But Zvonareva was no match for Wozniacki in the second set, as the 20-year-old Dane’s strong serve and aggressive net play swept aside Zvonareva. Wozniacki lost only four points in the entire set.
She will face U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters in Sunday’s final.
Clijsters won their only previous match in the 2009 U.S. Open final.
Clijsters shook off a car accident en route to Khalifa Complex to beat Sam Stosur of Australia 7-6 (3), 6-1 in the first semifinal.
Clijsters said a truck collied with her courtesy car at a roundabout, damaging the right front door. She said her manager suffered minor cuts.
”It was a little bit of a shakeup. We’re all fine,” she added. ”I was really just kind of trying to kind of switch my mental state and focus on the match. I was really white before I was about to warm up. So we got lucky.”
Wozniacki is the youngest player to reach the final since Maria Sharapova won at 17 in 2004.
”I’m just enjoying myself right now. I’m in the finals of the year-end championships. I’m happy about what I’ve achieved,” Wozniacki said.
”Tomorrow is going to be a tough one. Kim’s a great player. Yeah, it will be the last match of the season for me, so a little bit exciting as well.”
Wozniacki has won 12 singles titles, including six this year, but winning on Sunday would be her biggest title yet.
After stumbling against Stosur in group play, Wozniacki was aggressive from the outset against Zvonareva, who beat her in the semifinals of the U.S. Open. Wozniacki reached amost everything Zvonareva sent her way and ventured to the net to pile up winners.
”I was up 4-1 in the first set, and I had some chances actually to close out the set a little bit earlier, but, you know, she started to play really well,” Wozniacki said. ”I made a few mistakes and she came back. She had the set points there, and I managed somehow to turn it around.
”In the second set, I just knew it was important for me to start off well and try to get the first couple of games. I believed now that this was my match, and now I just had to try to close her out so that she didn’t get the belief back.”
Clijsters won the elite event in 2002 and 2003, but hadn’t qualified since 2006.
Even though Stosur had lost all four of her previous matches against Clijsters, she was confident of becoming the first Australian finalist since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1978, especially after beating Wozniacki in the group stage.
Stosur jumped out to 3-0 with the help of her trademark forehand. But Clijsters kept coming back and forced a tiebreaker, hitting several backhand winners down the line and others that caught the corners. She served more consistently than she had all week, racking up six aces during the match and keeping her double faults — a problem in her first match — to only two.
Clijsters went up 3-0 in the second set, taking advantage of a letdown from Stosur after the tough first-set loss. Stosur started hitting her forehands far and wide on her way to 25 unforced errors. A backhand long gave Clijsters a 4-1 lead and a forehand long made it 5-1.
”I have had really tough matches against Samantha in the past. I knew I had to play my best tennis today,” Clijsters said.
Stosur praised the Belgian.
”I think she started serving quite well as the match went on. She really hit her corners well and got me kind of out of the court and was able to open it up,” Stosur said.
”The end of that first set and the second set, she started using her backhand down the line more and hit some right on the line right when she needed to, and some close to,” she said. ”There’s not too many weaknesses in Kim’s game. You’ve got to find them when they’re there and really try and take advantage.”