Serena, Ivanovic battle into Cincinnati final

Sat Aug 16, 2014 10:48pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Serena Williams rallied past Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki on Saturday to reach the Western and Southern Open final in Cincinnati where she will face Ana Ivanovic, an upset winner over French Open champion Maria Sharapova.

Top-seeded Williams had to overcome a sluggish start to beat Wozniacki 2-6 6-2 6-4 while Serbian ninth seed Ivanovic eventually prevailed in a rollercoaster 6-2 5-7 7-5 win over the Russian fifth seed that lasted nearly three hours.

The Cincinnati tournament is the last of the key tune-ups ahead of the Aug. 25-Sept. 8 U.S. Open, the year's final grand slam, where Williams will defend her crown.

The day's first semi-final was a rematch of the thrilling quarter-final in Montreal earlier this month between Williams and Wozniacki that the American won in three sets.

Williams looked a pale shadow of herself in the 29-minute first set as she held her serve only once and recorded twice as many unforced errors as winners.

"I got off to a little bit of a slow start, but I was definitely in it," said Williams, who lost the 2013 Cincinnati title in a third set tie-break to Victoria Azarenka.

"I was just physically grinding and trying to get in there and really just trying to grind out everything."

Williams came out firing on all cylinders in the next set as she opened with a break, the first of three that set, before serving out the set at love.

The third set was a sloppy serving affair as Williams and Wozniacki exchanged seven breaks. But Williams's two holds of serve proved enough to get her into the final of a tournament she has never won in five previous appearances.   Continued...

Serena Williams (USA) reacts on day six of the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament at Linder Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports