Caroline Keeps Her Cool in SF Thriller
Published April 18, 2009 12:00
CHARLESTON, SC, USA - Two of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's most promising young stars pulled off semifinal upsets on Saturday - one more nail-biting than the other - to move into the championship final of the $1-million Family Circle Cup.
Caroline Wozniacki, 18 years old, was the first to advance to the final of the Premier-level clay court tournament, upsetting top seed Elena Dementieva in a three-set thriller, 64 57 75. Wozniacki, the No.5 seed, seemed on her way to a routine straight set win as she built a 64 52 lead, even holding triple match point at 64 53; but Dementieva tightened the screws and started hitting her big forehand bigger, reeling off five straight games - and saving all those match points - to take the match to a third.
Apart from one trade of breaks midway through, the deciding set was almost completely even until 5-5; but Wozniacki had gotten back into her groove by then and made her move, breaking at love to go up 6-5 then serving it out, finishing off the two-hour, 56-minute marathon with a forehand winner down the line.
"It felt so good," Wozniacki said of the match-winning shot. "I only had that shot to win the point, because she was covering the whole net. I only had this much space to put it in, and when I saw it go through, I just knew it was going to go in."
"It took a lot of energy to come back in the second set. Until then, I was just very disappointed in the way I was playing," Dementieva said. "No matter what the score was, I knew I just had to keep fighting. I had to be aggressive. I had to go for the winner. She wasn't missing at all. Credit to her, she's in great shape."
The No.3-ranked Dementieva goes down as Wozniacki's sixth and biggest Top 10 win, her previous best wins coming over a No.4-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova at Eastbourne last year and a No.4-ranked Dementieva at Miami a few weeks ago. If Wozniacki wins this tournament, she will crack the Top 10 herself - at No.10.
Standing between Wozniacki and the Top 10 will be Sabine Lisicki, who - as the No.16 seed - continued her unlikely run in Charleston with a 63 61 drubbing of No.6 seed Marion Bartoli in the second semifinal of the day. Lisicki had upset No.2 seed Venus Williams earlier in the week and seems to be picking up more steam.
"I was really happy I got to the semis, and I really wanted to go out there and play well," Lisicki said. "I played Marion at Wimbledon last year - it was on Centre Court, so I was too nervous. I really wanted to avoid that today. I started playing well, got in the lead and just wrapped it up."
Wozniacki and Lisicki have played just once before, with the Dane winning in the third round of the Australian Open last year, 46 64 63. Lisicki led there, 64 42.
"It was more than a year ago when we played, and I think we've both gotten much better," Lisicki said. "It will be a good final. We both deserve to be there."
The doubles semifinals were also played on Saturday, with No.4 seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Nadia Petrova upsetting No.1 seeds Kveta Peschke and Lisa Raymond in the first match, then unseeded pairing Liga Dekmeijere and Patty Schnyder upsetting No.3 seeds Peng Shuai and Yan Zi in the second match.