NEW YORK, NY, USA - The WTA's new World No.1 Angelique Kerber christened her rise to the top of the rankings with a commanding straight sets win over Caroline Wozniacki to reach her first US Open final, her third major final of the year.
With Serena Williams stunned in the last round, Kerber stepped onto Arthur Ashe Stadium as the provisional WTA World No.1 - she'll assume the top spot when the new rankings are released on Monday. But if Kerber was feeling any nerves, she didn't show it in her 6-4, 6-3 defeat of two-time US Open finalist Wozniacki.
"It was not so easy to go then on court, because I knew it actually before that if Serena lost, of course, that I will be the No. 1," Kerber explained in post-match press. "So it was not so easy mentally, but I was trying to not put too much pressure on myself."
The German opened the match on a tear, breaking Wozniacki's serve twice and going up 4-0 before Wozniacki had even won four points. Kerber stayed composed even when Wozniacki' raised her aggression, finally finding her rhythm in the match to wrestle the break back.
Both players excel at outlasting their opponents in long rallies, but against Kerber Wozniacki was committing just too many unforced errors to keep up. She struck 26 unforced errors to Kerber's 16 against 21 winners to Kerber's 19. Kerber opened the second set with another double break lead, and powered through to her third Grand Slam final of the year after an hour and a half.
"I was always dreaming [about being No.1] when I was really young," Kerber grinned after the match. "I remember the match also in Cincinnati where I have the chance to reach it with the win there."
"But after that I was just telling myself, 'Okay, I mean, I will get one more chance.' Yeah, it feels just great."
For Wozniacki, despite falling short of reaching a third US Open final the Dane qualifies it as a great fortnight, and a step in the right direction in putting an injury-plagued season behind her.
"Well, obviously right now I'm a little disappointed not to win today, but at the end of the day it's been a good tournament, something I can be proud of," Wozniacki reflected in her post-match press conference.
"I came into this tournament ranked 74 in the world and probably people ruled me out, but it's nice to prove people wrong once again. It's nice to have a good run. I did my best out there today. I fought all I could, and just came up a bit short."
Standing between Kerber and the US Open crown is Karolina Pliskova, the player who foiled her previous attempt at reaching the World No.1 ranking. Pliskova is riding an 11-match winning streak, which includes today's takedown of Williams.
"For sure she has a lot of confidence," Kerber said. "Now especially against the win against Serena. She will go out there and try and win her first Grand Slam, but at the end I will try the same."
I know it will be mentally for me also very tough because she knows that she won against me like few weeks ago. But at the end I know how I was playing in Cincinnati. I know what to change. I will talk with my coach about the game and I will try to take the challenge again against her."
? WTA (@WTA) September 9, 2016