MASON, Ohio — Serena Williams advanced to her second final in three weeks with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Caroline Wozniacki at the Western & Southern Open. The win moved Williams to 17-1 against top 20 opposition this season and 6-2 in three-set matches. On Sunday she'll have an opportunity to capture one of the few big titles that has eluded her over her career. She has played Cincinnati five times and finished second last year. She will play either Maria Sharapova or Ana Ivanovic.
On an overcast and cool day — at least by Mason standards — Williams and Wozniacki combined for 15 breaks of serve, with neither woman able to sustain much momentum throughout the match. The match did not live up to the standard of their high-quality match last week in the Rogers Cup quarterfinals, which saw Serena survive with a narrow 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 win. Serena was sluggish early and admitted to feeling fatigue after three consecutive weeks of play. Not wanting to get into protracted rallies with the baselining Wozniacki, Williams was committed to going big on her first serve. She regularly clocked over 120 mph on both aces and faults, finishing with seven aces and three double-faults.
"Yeah, just had to go for rockets because I wasn't feeling great," Williams said. She finished with 36 winners to 41 unforced errors. "I thought, 'Listen, I'm going to go out and just try to hit aces and see what happens.' It started working for me."
Williams was equally aggressive on her return game, and Wozniacki admitted to feeling the pressure on her own serve.
"The percentage was lower and I think I didn't place it as well as I have in the previous matches and in Montréal," Wozniacki said.
Any day you can break Serena's serve seven times in a match you should be walking away with the win. But the Dane hit eight double-faults and was broken in seven of her last nine service games. She also hit 23 unforced errors to just eight winners.
"I got a lot of great serves in, put her into defense straightaway, and today I didn't manage to do that. I knew that she was going to be aggressive on my second serve. That put a bit more pressure on my first serve. I was serving pretty well in the beginning, but then I kind of just lost a little bit of timing."
Wozniacki broke Williams' serve three times in the final set and still took the loss.
Williams called the trainer during the match but dismissed any injury concerns. She is playing her third consecutive week of tennis, having played four matches to win the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, four matches to make the semifinals of the Rogers Cup and four matches to make the final here.
"[I have] just a little wear and getting my body used to playing matches, because my body is not used to playing a lot of matches anymore this year," Williams said.
After the match Williams was presented with the U.S. Open Series trophy, awarded to the player who had the best cumulative results at the U.S. Open Series tournaments this summer. Williams won the U.S. Open Series last year and went on to win the U.S. Open.