Wozniacki to face Williams for Singapore crown

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki will face evergreen Venus Williams in Sunday’s title decider at the WTA Finals in Singapore.

In the first match of the day, Wozniacki had to dig very deep to complete a gritty 7-6 (11-9), 6-3 victory over former World No 1 Karolina Pliskova.

The victory earns the Dane her first appearance in the championship match of the WTA Finals since 2010.

The margins between the two players were exceptionally narrow. Both players had to fend off break points in their opening service games, while 15 of the 21 service games in all featured break points and 10 of the 12 games in the first set went to deuce.

Midway through the opener, Pliskova was able to snatch the first break of the match, only for Pliskova to respond immediately with a break of her own. The pattern continued for the next two service games before Wozniacki was able to break the cycle during a marathon 10th game in which she saved three break and set points.

It was left to a tie-break to decide the set – which Wozniacki initially dominated to take a 6-1 lead – only for Pliskova to save five straight set points and get back on level terms.

The Czech then earned three set points of her own, which also went begging, and this time when Wozniacki earned her sixth set point at 10-9, she finally clinched it with a powerful forehand down the line.

The second set was another pitched battle, marked by four breaks of serve in the opening five games – two for each player to leave the scores tied at 3-3.

A tired Pliskova finally relented in the eighth game, however, which she lost to love on her own serve to hand Wozniacki a 5-3 lead and opportunity to serve for the match, which she duly did without any real problems.

“I think it was about the first set overall,” Pliskova admitted afterwards. “I don’t know how it would play if I would have won the first set, if it would have been that easy in the second, but I had so many chances.”

Wozniacki agreed, saying: “You know, I think that broke her a little bit.”

Looking ahead to the final, the Dane added: “I feel comfortable and confident, and, you know, regardless of who I play in the final, it’s going to be a tough battle and it’s going to be a tough match to win. But I’m excited to play and get another opportunity.”

Venus Williams

The second match between Williams and Caroline Garcia was another tense affair which initially seemed to be heading the Frenchwoman’s way.

After the players exchanged breaks early in the match, the rest of the first set passed without a further break – despite numerous opportunities for both.

A tie-break decided it, with Garcia taking control to seize the initiative and go one set up.

But 37-year-old Williams would hit back superbly, defying her advanced years to boss the second and third sets.

Two breaks of serve handed her the second set by a comfortable margin, and another crucial break late in the third gave her the opportunity to serve for the match at 5-3.

Garcia fought hard to avert defeat, earning three break points, but Williams saved them all before converting her first match point as Garcia fired a heavy backhand into the net.

If Williams wins on Sunday, she will become the first player since Gabriela Sabatini in 1994 to win the WTA Finals as her sole title of the year.