Sun, Sep 07, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Serena to take on Wozniacki in final

BEAT BY THE HEAT:Caroline Wozniacki made it to the final after China’s Peng Shuai was forced to retire from their semi-final after suffering from heat-related illness

AFP, NEW YORK

Serena Williams of the US reacts to a point against Ekaterina Makarova of Russia during their women’s singles semi-final match at the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City on Friday.

Photo: AFP

Serena Williams is to fight for an 18th Grand Slam title against Caroline Wozniacki after sweeping past Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-3 on Friday to reach the US Open final.

World No. 1 Williams, winner of the past two titles at Flushing Meadows and five overall, will try to match Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on 18 career major titles when she faces her good friend Wozniacki today.

The 10th-seeded Dane was leading 7-6 (7/1), 4-3 when China’s Peng Shuai dramatically retired from their semi-final with heat related illness.

Peng was taken from the court in a wheelchair as Wozniacki, leading 7-6 (7/1), 4-3, was declared the victor.

Peng, in growing discomfort in the second set in the hot sunshine bathing Arthur Ashe Stadium court, was overcome in the eighth game, reeling to the back of the court, where she was eventually attended by a trainer and a supervisor.

After some discussion, she was helped from the court and granted a confusing and controversial mid-game medical timeout as Wozniacki, facing a break point, was left to try to stay loose hitting practice serves.

Peng returned to the court and after a break of 10 minutes played five more points before she was stricken again, finally crumpling to the court, her Grand Slam dream in tatters.

“She was in distress, she had a heat-related illness,” tournament director David Brewer said after the match, adding that Peng was recovering well in the on-site medical facility.

“It was very difficult to watch,” said Wozniacki, who went to Peng’s side when she fell to the court, offering her a comforting pat.

“Tennis is great, but the health is more important. I wanted to make sure that she’s OK,” Wozniacki said.

Wozniacki was especially concerned knowing that Peng had surgery to correct a heart defect as a youngster.

She was not too worried about whether the extended break broke any rule.

“I didn’t really know the rules — I know if it’s just cramping you aren’t allowed to have a timeout, but if it’s heat illness you can,” she said.

Peng, speaking later after an ice bath and rest, said the doctor who treated her during the time out urged her not to return to the match.

“I said: ‘No, no, no, I don’t want to give up. I want to try one more time.’ I knew I’m not going to stay maybe too long, but I just wanted to try. I just wanted to challenge her one more time,” she said.

Peng’s memory of the moment the match was halted is hazy.

“I couldn’t think for the match because I wanted to stop the cramping, to breathe, but I think when I came back on the court, the doctor, she knows. So with the situation, they’re not going to let me die on the court, so they have to decide,” she said.

Wozniacki, who shocked five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova in the fourth round, is back in a Grand Slam final for the first time since losing in the 2009 US Open final to Kim Clijsters.

“It’s incredible to be in the final, I have goosebumps,” she said.

Despite her 17 major wins, Williams, too, was overjoyed to return to the final, having failed to make it out of the fourth round at any major so far this year.

“Oh my God, it feels so good,” said Williams, who sank almost to her knees screaming: “Yes!” when Makarova pushed a last forehand wide. “I’m so happy, you have no idea.”

Williams saw Peng’s travails unfold as she warmed up for her match.

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