Williams through to final after titanic tussle
After a vicious assault on her racquet, Williams roars back to down her great friend
Only the best athletes possess that ability to triumph in adversity.
And in a great semi-final, at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global yesterday, women's world No. 1 Serena Williams reminded everyone that she belongs in that select group.
Down 6-2 in the first set, Williams roared back in the second to thump Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, before squeezing past the Dane 7-6 (8/6) after a tense tiebreaker to book her place in today's final, where she will face her group stage conqueror, Simona Halep.
The American committed a bagful of unforced errors in the first set and it culminated in her smashing her racquet (inset) on the court when Wozniacki raced to a 5-2 lead at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
She received a code violation warning from the umpire and, speaking about it later in the post-match press conference, she said: "I don't know how many times I hit it, but boy, that racquet will never do me wrong again, I tell you.
"I kind of lost my cool a little bit.
"Well at least you know I'm passionate. I give 200 per cent. When I play, doesn't matter how I feel, I'm going to give everything I have for every shot and every point.
"I'm not the kind of girl who goes out there and just plays through the motions and just doesn't care whether I win or lose. I give everything."
Come the second set, the 33-year-old displayed all the skill, strength and mental fortitude that has seen her win 18 Grand Slam titles.
Williams' trademark booming serves were too much for her Danish opponent to handle, as she served up a total of 12 aces in the match.
The third set was close as both players trade blows, but Wozniacki eventually broke Williams and served for the match at 5-4.
But Williams came roaring back and broke back for 5-5 with an overhead, celebrating with a raised fist.
There was incredible drama when Wozniacki, serving to stay in the match, survived a match-point with two consecutive volleys to force the third-set tie-break.
Williams double-faulted to put Wozniacki 3-1 up, but the American then reeled off five consecutive points to set up two more match-points, but her opponent escaped.
But after Williams set up her fourth match-point with an ace, Wozniacki's luck ran out when she swept a forehand wide, consigning her to her 10th defeat in 11 meetings with the great American.
Said Williams: "It was the first match in a while that I didn't feel great. I didn't give a massive fist pump. I almost felt like crying because Caro is so nice, we get along and we do so much together.
"But, what I really love about our relationship is we really play each other on the court incredibly hard. And then we just try to put it aside out of the court.
"She's like my little baby sister from a different mother and father. And a different country."
Wozniacki, meanwhile, was gracious in defeat.
"Serena was just better than me in the most crucial moments. That is why champions are champions. All of them step it up when it matters," said the 24-year-old.
"Today, Serena just got the better of me in the end."
Williams will now battle Halep again.
"I'm excited (to face Halep). Hopefully I can hold serve and, most of all, I hope to break once. So I'm starting out with low goals," quipped Williams, after her 6-0, 6-2 hammering against the Romanian earlier in the week.
"She played really well (on Wednesday)... I'm just going to do the best that I can do and see what happens."
ON TNP TWEETS
- PHOTO: TWITTER/WTA
>Cara Black and Sania Mirza, doubles pair:
Double the trouble... Cara Black & @MirzaSania are into the finals! #WTAFinals #TwitterMirror #tennis
- PHOTO: TWITTER/WTA
>Simona Halep, tennis world No. 4:
One Word: HAPPY! @Simona_Halep into 1st #WTAFinals final in her 1st appearance! #TwitterMirror #tennis.
- Simona Halep v Serena Williams
- Cara Black & Sania Mirza v Hsieh Su Wei & Peng Shuai