Venus trounces Wozniacki to reach Dubai final

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 21, 2014 10:49 AM

By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - Venus Williams trounced Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki 6-3 6-2 in the semi-finals of the Dubai Championships on Friday, setting up a possible final against her younger sister and world number one Serena.

Should Serena overcome France's Alize Cornet in the evening's second semi-final, the siblings will play each other in a final for the first time since 2009.

"It will be wonderful for us to walk on to the court in the final again like the first time so many years ago," Venus told reporters. "I haven't been able to hold my side of the bargain these last few years."

Venus Williams, ranked 44, had won her previous four encounters against former number one Wozniacki, now ranked 11, without dropping a set. But their most recent meeting was in 2008 and the American has struggled to find her best form since she was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease in 2011.

Both players hugged the baseline in the early exchanges under a fading desert sun.

Six out of nine games went against serve in an error-strewn opening set, Williams breaking in the first game only to be pegged back to 2-2 following a long forehand.

Wozniacki had been in scintillating form in Dubai, dismissing Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki in the first round and not dropping a set thereafter, but Williams's ground strokes proved too potent.

Williams's movement between points seemed slightly labored, however, the 33-year-old's face betraying anguished frustration after she slugged a routine return into the net.

Serving for the set at 5-2, Williams hit a series of errant shots that led Wozniacki to break to love and close to 5-3.

The Dane's resurgence proved fleeting. She fluffed two chances to hold in the next game and could play only a stooping mid-court volley wide to gift Williams her second set point.

The seven-times grand slam champion made no mistake, a deep return forcing Wozniacki into scuffing a forehand into the net.

Williams cranked up the pressure in the second set, racing into a 3-0 lead.

Serving at 4-2, Williams wobbled, but recovered from 0-40, eventually holding with the help of two cross-court volley winners.

Wozniacki, who topped the year-ending rankings in 2010 and 2011 but has since reached only one grand slam quarter-final, put up little resistance, ceding the match with another forehand into the net.

Williams has yet to drop a set in Dubai, beating four higher-ranked opponents along the way including former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic.

"I feel like I've just gotten so much better since my first round to now, just feeling comfortable on the court, feeling comfortable when I'm behind, feeling comfortable when I'm in the lead," Williams said.

"It reminds me a lot of when I first came on tour, having to learn a lot, so I feel like I'm learning lessons all over again."

(Reporting by Matt Smith in Dubai; editing by Clare Lovell)