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Peng's First Premier Final, Wozniacki Next

Peng Shuai beat the No.2 seed to reach the biggest final of her career, but can she handle No.1?

Published May 20, 2011 12:00

Peng's First Premier Final, Wozniacki Next
Peng Shuai

BRUSSELS, Belgium - She had come close before, but Peng Shuai truly turned the tables on one of the most lopsided head-to-heads out there on Friday afternoon, beating Vera Zvonareva in the semifinals of the Brussels Open. World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki awaits in Saturday afternoon's final.

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Peng had lost all seven prior meetings with Zvonareva but this time would have none of that, scoring a 63 63 win. The No.8-seeded Peng had some very strong stats during the match - she won 30 of 34 points on her first serve (88%) and pummelled the No.2 seed's second serve, winning 14 of 17 points (82%).

"I'm really happy. I played really well," Peng said. "I played her a few times before but didn't take the chances I had. I lost 7-5 in the third to her in Pattaya and was a bit nervous, but today I just tried to fight and didn't think too much about the other matches against her. Vera is a really good player."

Peng is in her fourth and biggest WTA final, and after her first title. She was a runner-up at Strasbourg in 2006 and at Forest Hills and Guangzhou in 2008.

Wozniacki, this week's No.1 seed, won an all-star second semifinal, grinding past No.3 seed Francesca Schiavone, 64 46 63. After losing the second set to the reigning French Open champion Wozniacki again looked in trouble as she let a 3-1 lead dissipate to 3-all; but the reigning No.1 finished strong.

"I thought it was a really good match today - we both played really well," Wozniacki said. "I'm happy I'm starting to find my game and feel really confident on the clay ahead of the French Open. The technical part of my game is coming together, and I was particularly pleased with my serve and return today."

Wozniacki leads Peng in their head-to-head series, 2-1. Peng won their first meeting in 2007, while Wozniacki recorded wins in 2008 and 2009.

Although Wozniacki is the favorite for the final, Peng has several things going for her. Her win over the No.3-ranked Zvonareva wasn't just her 11th career Top 10 win, it was her equal-best career win, alongside beating then-No.3 Anastasia Myskina at Sydney in 2005. Also, while Wozniacki has won a WTA-leading 37 main draw matches in 2011, Peng is second on the tour in that stat with 29.

Peng will try to become the fourth Chinese ever to beat a reigning No.1, following in the footsteps of Zheng Jie, Li Na and Zhang Shuai.

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