World No. 1 Serena Williams racked up her 50th win of the year on Saturday as she cruised past Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic to reach the Swedish Open final.
Williams showed little mercy as she swept to a 6-4, 6-0 victory to set up a clash with home player Johanna Larsson in the final.
Larsson, ranked 76th in the world, had earlier dismissed Italy’s Flavia Panetta, but the world No. 103 pushed her all the way, before the Swede triumphed 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The 24-year-old Swedish player will be appearing in the third WTA Tour final of her career, having already lost in Bastad in 2011 and in Portoroz, Slovenia, the previous year.
French Open winner Williams was contesting her 69th final at the age of 31.
“I was hardly making mistakes in the first set. I have to figure out a way to continue that tennis for more than one set, and I’m definitely going to go back and watch the film,” Williams said. “In the second set she started playing a lot better. She was being more aggressive and I started making some errors on a few key points. I think that was a turning point. I’m happy I could close it out though.”
Before this year, the most WTA Tour main-draw-match wins Williams had at this point of a year was 38 in 2003.
Williams, who has 52 WTA Tour titles, beat Larsson in their only previous meeting in the Fed Cup earlier this year.
“She has nothing to lose and everything to gain, and that’s a great position to be in,” Williams said. “I remember playing her this year. She has a good serve, a good kick. I always thought she’d be good on clay and I remember her spirit — she was fighting really hard. I’m excited that she’s in the final.”
AP, BAD GASTEIN, Austria
Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic edged Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 7-5, 6-7 (1/7), 6-4 to set up a final against Yvonne Meusburger at the Gastein Ladies on Saturday.
Meusburger reached her second straight WTA Tour final by defeating Karin Knapp of Italy 6-4, 6-3. The Austrian was beaten by Romania’s Simona Halep for the title in Budapest the previous weekend.
Hlavackova had not been beyond the quarter-finals of a WTA Tour event before. Ranked 108th, she specializes in doubles, where she won the French Open in 2011 and finished runner-up at Wimbledon, the London Olympics and the US Open last year.
Hlavackova and Meusburger meet for the first time. In her third career final, Meusburger is looking for her maiden title.
“I hope it’s going to happen tomorrow,” said Meusburger, who also reached the final of the 2007 Gastein Ladies, but lost to Francesca Schiavone.
The 86th-ranked Meusburger broke Knapp in the opening game, but missed two chances to go 4-1 up. After four consecutive breaks, Meusburger held serve at 5-4.
The Austrian failed to serve out the match at 5-2, but broke Knapp immediately afterwards when the Italian ended the match with two double faults.
“I didn’t play spectacular tennis, I just tried to be consistent,” said Meusburger, who has not dropped a set in the tournament. “I kept the ball in play and waited for her mistakes. These tactics have paid off.”
In a match that included 20 breaks of serve, Hlavackova got treatment for a right-ankle injury toward the end of the opening set. She came from 4-1 down to take the second into a tiebreaker, before breaking Svitolina’s serve three more times in the decider.