Sat, Sep 10, 2016 - Page 16 News List

Kerber celebrates top spot with win

HELD BACK:Serena Williams fell to Karolina Pliskova in straight sets, stalling her efforts for another Grand Slam victory to top Steffi Graf, with the two greats tied at 22

Reuters, NEW YORK

Germany’s Angelique Kerber returns to Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki in their US Open women’s singles semi-final at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Reaching top of the world seems to agree with Angelique Kerber, who on Thursday celebrated her ascension to the No. 1 ranking with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Caroline Wozniacki to advance to today’s US Open final.

The German left-hander was assured of becoming No. 1 when the new rankings come out on Monday after top-seeded Serena Williams of the US was defeated by Czech 10th seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) in the earlier semi-final.

Australian Open champion Kerber, who leads the WTA for most main draw match wins this season at 53-14, clinched victory with a backhand that actually landed just beyond the baseline, but went unchallenged by former No. 1 Wozniacki of Denmark.

“It’s just incredible. It’s a great day,” Kerber said on court. “To be here in the final for the first time, that means a lot. To be No. 1 in the world, it sounds amazing.”

Kerber is to become the second German to top the women’s rankings, following Steffi Graf.

“For me, it’s just amazing to be after Steffi, the next No. 1 player in Germany,” said Kerber, who at 28 is to become the oldest player to reach No. 1. “Steffi is a great champion, she’s a great person. I think she’s proud of me to be the next one after her.”

Wozniacki, who has slipped to 74th in the rankings coming back from injuries, saluted Kerber.

“Obviously, she’s had a great year,” the Dane said. “She gets a lot of balls back. She knows how to change the pace. She gets good angles.”

“She’s playing really well,” 26-year-old Wozniacki added.

Kerber had downplayed talk about becoming No. 1, but admitted it felt “just great.”

“To be now the No. 1 in the world, that was always a dream for me,” she added.

The changing of the guard as women’s top player also safeguarded Graf’s share of the record for most consecutive weeks at No. 1, with Williams at 186.

The derailing of Williams’ bid for a record-setting seventh U.S. Open title kept the American stalled at 22 Grand Slam singles titles — tied with Graf for most in the Open era.

Kerber, who beat Williams in the Australian Open final for her first Grand Slam and fell to the same player in the Wimbledon title match, has one unfinished piece of business — getting even with Pliskova, who beat her in last month’s Cincinnati final.

“I will try to take the revenge against her,” said Kerber, who holds a 4-3 career edge over the big-serving Pliskova.

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