AUCKLAND (Reuters) - Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki and the evergreen Venus Williams won their semi-finals at the Auckland Classic on Friday to set up a final showdown between two former world number ones.
Wozniacki advanced to her 38th WTA career final with a hard-fought 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
Then Williams, showing few signs of slowing down at the age of 34, joined her in Saturday’s title match with a 6-0 6-3 win romp over fellow American Lauren Davis.
For Williams, who lost last year’s Auckland final to Ana Ivanovic, it marks her 76th appearance in a final. Already the sixth oldest woman to claim a title after she won in Dubai last year, if she wins she will become the fourth oldest champion.
Williams did suffer a minor hiccup against Davis. After winning the first seven games on the trot, she dropped three of the next four to trail 3-2 in the second, before reeling off the last four to wrap up victory.
The American has won all five of her previous meetings with Wozniacki but the Dane, who has hit a purple patch of form since reaching last year’s U.S. Open final, was hopeful of ending her drought.
”She’s obviously a tough competitor,“ Wozniacki said. ”It won’t be easy, but I‘m looking forward to it.
“I‘m happy to be in my first final of the year, and hopefully there will be many more to come.”
Wozniacki looked to be in trouble against Zahlavova Strycova after losing the first set then falling a break down in the second.
However, she rediscovered her form in the nick of time, winning 10 of the next 13 games to take the second set and build a decisive 4-2 lead in the third.
“For me, it was about just staying in the match. I didn’t start off too well, I didn’t really feel the depth of the ball that I wanted to,” Wozniacki said.
”But I started playing better as it went on and I think she did too. I just had to kind of get going out there.
“We were out there for a long time but I knew the longer we went I wouldn’t really feel tired. I was still feeling fine at the end of the match. But I‘m definitely just happy to get through this one today.”
Reporting by Julian Linden in Brisbane; Editing by John O'Brien