MONTRÉAL, Canada - Serena Williams came back from the brink of defeat in the second set - and then held off a late comeback in the third set - to get past good friend Caroline Wozniacki in a center court thriller in front of a packed crowd at the Rogers Cup in Montréal on Friday, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.
Early on in the match Wozniacki was in vintage form, keeping her unforced errors down and hitting all her targets, while Williams was somewhat off of her game, throwing in some uncharacteristic errors - and not before long Wozniacki was sitting on top of a hefty 6-4, 4-2 lead, and that very nearly became 6-4, 5-2, as Williams fell behind 15-30 on her serve in that game. She was in the danger zone.
But a big ace brought her to 30-all and began a run of 10 points in a row that got her right back into it, as she won seven of the next eight games to sneak out the set, 7-5, and go up 2-0 in the third.
Wozniacki kept creeping back, cutting that 2-0 lead to 2-all and then, after Williams won another two games, cutting her 4-2 lead to 4-all. But eventually the No.1-seeded Williams' fight was just too much, and she finally closed out the No.11-seeded Wozniacki after two hours and 41 minutes.
Both players were very complimentary towards each other in their post-match press conferences.
"She just does everything well," Williams said of Wozniacki. "She's really fast, gets a lot of balls back, she makes you hit that extra shot - and she kept her unforced errors down super low today.
"Especially when you play someone like Caroline, you know your match might be a little longer than normal. You go in there thinking, 'This is not going to be routine.' You're just ready."
"Serena is No.1 in the world, so you expect she'll be really, really good out there," Wozniacki said. "You know that she's going to serve well, she's going to go in and attack you straightaway, she's going to take the ball early - you know it's going to be a tough fight. She's not going to give a match away.
"In general I'm very satisfied about the week, though. I've been playing some good tennis and I can take a lot of positives with me. Obviously losing 7-5 in the third always sucks, but I gave it my all out there, and that's all I could ask of myself. Again, I have loads of positives to take with me."
With Friday's win, Williams is also projected to pass Li Na and move from No.4 to No.3 on the Road To Singapore leaderboard, the year-long journey to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, though she can go no higher on the list no matter what happens the rest of this week.
Tough loss today, 7-5 in the third against @serenawilliams.Still lots of positives to take from this week!The support was amazing thank you!