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NEW YORK (Reuters) - For Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki, there is a time for friendship and a time for business, and business does not get much more serious than a grand slam final.
The pair spent some holiday time together in Miami earlier in the summer but on Sunday they will be bidding for U.S. Open glory, with very different motivations.
For world number one Williams, victory would give her an 18th grand slam title, putting her alongside Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in the all-time list.
Former world number one Wozniacki is hoping to win her first grand slam title and complete an unlikely comeback, having recorded just one quarter-final appearance in her past 11 grand slams.
“I'm just really excited to be in the final,” top seed Williams said, who is chasing her third straight U.S. Open title.
“At the beginning of the week, I definitely wasn't sure I would make it this long. Definitely wasn't sure I'd be here. So I'm just elated, to be honest, to have made it this far.”
Having failed to get beyond the last 16 of the year’s first three grand slam events, Williams exited Wimbledon under a cloud after she retired from the doubles, looking dazed and disorientated.
After later revealing she had been suffering from a viral illness, Williams rebounded in the North American summer, winning two titles and reached the final in New York without dropping a set.
Missing out on an 18th grand slam title would not go down well, the American admitted, but she is trying not to make it the be-all and end-all.
“It would be hard for me to imagine that I would be happy losing,” she said. “I won't be.
“But 10 years from now… I won’t be sad about it. I have accomplished a lot and I think I should be happy about that, and I am.
“When I look at the big picture like that, that helps me. That's the part that helps me to be able to relax and not take it so serious.”
In addition to their beach time, Williams and Wozniacki met on the court twice this summer, with the American edging out the Dane in three sets each time.
The 24-year-old Wozniacki leaned on Williams for support after golfer Rory McIlroy broke off their engagement just before the French Open.
But on Sunday, the former world number one will simply be trying to win her first grand slam title, five years after her only other final, when she lost to Belgium’s Kim Clijsters.
“It would mean so much to me,” she said. “I have been close before I would love to win it and have a grand slam under my belt.
“The last two times I played Serena we played two really tough three-set matches. It's going to be exciting. Either way, it's been a great tournament for me, and I hope that I can get one more win under my belt.”
Editing by Gene Cherry