Wozniacki cuts through wind to reach semi-finals

Wed Sep 8, 2010 11:20pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Caroline Wozniacki stayed on course for a return to the U.S. Open final, fighting near gale-force winds and big forehands from diminutive Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals.

The top-seeded Dane, who breezed through the first four rounds losing just 10 games, navigated the challenges for a 6-2 7-5 victory that set up a semi-finals match with seventh-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva, the Wimbledon runner-up.

With winds gusting to 33 mph whipping across the Arthur Ashe center court, causing the net to flutter, napkins to blow on the court and service tosses to swerve away, Wozniacki broke the Slovak in the 11th game of the second set and held serve to close out the blustery 105-minute match.

"It felt like playing in a hurricane or something," said 20-year-old Wozniacki, who began the match with her hair pulled back and tied in a pony tail, but ended up braiding it to keep her blond locks from blowing around her face. "But it's the same for both players and I'm so happy to get through."

The wind wreaked havoc with serve and groundstrokes alike, with Cibulkova once tossing the ball four times before finally being able to hit the ball. Another time she was aiming for deuce court and sent her serve wide of the ad court.

Wozniacki hit one serve that bounced about five meters short of the net and bounced over.

Both players hit numerous groundstrokes off their racket frames, making improvisation and guessing at the strength of the wind a vital part of the match.

Cibulkova had a harder time adjusting at the start and dropped her serve the first three times in the opening set.   Continued...

<p>Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark blows a kiss to the crowd after defeating Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York September 8, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>