Monday 19 March 2018

Zvonareva serves up US shock

Phil Casey

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki was sent crashing out of the US Open last night as Russia's Vera Zvonareva reached her second successive Grand Slam final with a comprehensive victory.

Zvonareva dominated the day's first semi-final from the outset on Arthur Ashe Stadium to record a 6-4, 6-3 win in one hour and 25 minutes.

The seventh seed, who lost to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final earlier this year, will play the winner of the second semi-final between defending champion Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams.

"It was a tough match, Caroline was here in the finals last year and she's a great player," said Zvonareva. "It was very difficult for both of us with the wind but I think I was patient and aggressive like in the previous matches.

"It was a great experience for me at Wimbledon but I think it's in the past, I'm trying to look forward at the moment and am just enjoying this day, my win today. I will think about the match later."

Wozniacki had not dropped a set in reaching the semi-finals and had only lost 17 games in total, but was immediately in trouble, saving two break points in the opening game of the match.

The 20-year-old Dane, beaten by Clijsters in the final 12 months ago, was unable to repeat the trick in her next service game however and Zvonareva served superbly throughout the opening set to take it in 45 minutes.

Wozniacki was committing way more unforced errors than usual -- 31 in total in the match -- and although she initially recovered from a break down early in the second set, Zvonareva broke in the next game as well for a 3-2 lead.

The 26-year-old from Moscow was having more trouble with broken strings than Wozniacki's game and a fourth break of Wozniacki's serve sealed a well-deserved place in today's Super Saturday final.

Before that showpiece, however, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will attempt to negotiate their men's semi-finals to set up what would be one of the great tennis matches of modern times.


"Without a doubt, the greatest match of the open era," said Brad Gilbert, someone you can usually rely on to sound over-caffeinated, as if he had been marinating in espressos.

By tomorrow evening, Nadal could have achieved his career grand slam at the age of 24, and in doing so he also could have completed his collection of beating Federer in the final of each of the four majors.

That would doubtless have some wondering whether it is the Majorcan who should be regarded as the greatest player of all time, not the Swiss.

Victory would give Nadal a third successive slam title, after his success at the French Open and Wimbledon, and take him to nine majors, seven behind Federer's record 16.

All the other slam cities have had at least one Rafa-Roger final, so many in New York will be hoping that Nadal defeats Russian Mikhail Youzhny and Federer fends off Serbia's Novak Djokovic.

You can hardly blame Federer for the fact he has never met Nadal in New York, as, if he beats Djokovic, it would be his seventh straight final here. Nadal, after losing in the last four for the past couple of years, is widely expected to defeat Youzhny to reach his first US Open final, and then he would be just three more sets away from becoming only the seventh man to achieve the career slam.

Nadal has already beaten Federer in one final on the Wimbledon grass, in one title-match at the hard-court Australian Open and in three clay-court French Open finals, so all that is left is doing it on the fast American concrete.

It was a breakthrough for Nadal when he beat Federer in last season's Australian Open final, as that gave him a first hard-court major, yet winning the US Open would be more of an accomplishment, as his game is less suited to this cement, as it is faster.

Plus Federer has been so superb here, as his only defeat in the last six finals came when he lost a five-setter last year to Juan Martin del Potro. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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