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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, February 24, 2017

 
Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki swept Anastasija Sevastova to reach her second straight final and first Dubai final since she won the title in 2011.

Photo credit: Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Facebook

A slightly slick surface and quirky opponent couldn’t stop Caroline Wozniacki from fast-tracking into her second straight final.

Wozniacki withstood two rain interruptions and the arrhythmical Anastasija Sevastova sealing a 6-3, 6-4 victory with an ace to advance to her second career Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final.

Watch: Wozniacki's New Coach

The 2011 champion will take on seventh-seeded Elina Svitolina in tomorrow's final.

Svitolina hit five forehand winners in the tie break scoring her third consecutive win over top-seeded Angelique Kerber, 6-3, 7-6 (3), to reach her second straight final.

In their lone prior meeting, Svitolina edged Wozniacki, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (1) in Miami last year.

"They’re both great competitors, great opponents," Wozniacki said. "I lost to both of them the last time I played them. It's not going to be easy. I’m just thrilled to be in the finals and I’m going to give it my best tomorrow."

Contesting her sixth straight Dubai semifinal, Wozniacki raised her record at the event to 22-5—the best in tournament history—rolling into her 44th career WTA final a week after playing the Doha title match.




“Being an ambassador for Dubai Duty Free makes it even more sweet,” Wozniacki said afterward. “I’m kind of used to the rain by now. For the last two weeks, it’s been a little bit on and off.

“I thought we played good, quality tennis and I’m extremely happy to be through.”

The counterpuncher played cleaner and more consistent tennis. Wozniacki served 70 percent and made 17 winners offsetting 17 errors to beat Sevastova for the third time in as many meetings.

The former world No. 1feels comfortable on the quicker Dubai hard court because her speed enables her to extend points while the surface gives her shots added sting.

“I think it's just a mix of everything. The ball goes pretty quickly through the air,” Wozniacki said. “The court is pretty fast. I feel I get to the balls still very well. I run very well on these courts, but at the same time, I feel like I can put pressure on the opponent and make them feel like they have less time.”

Twenty minutes into the match Sevastova had already matched the two-game total she produced in their last meeting when Wozniacki dispensed a 6-0, 6-2 thrashing in the US Open quarterfinals last September.

The 15th-ranked Dane navigated the first deuce game of the match, snapping off a smash to hold for 4-3.

After a coaching visit from her father, Wozniacki stepped into the court in the eighth game earning the first break point of the night. Sevastova scattered a forehand down the line long dropping serve.

Crunching the ball with more authority, Wozniacki attacked behind a forehand drawing an errant pass to snatch the opening set in 35 minutes.




A second rain delay briefly stopped play at 1-all in the second set. When play resumed, Sevastova powered through a love hold for 2-1.

The 35th-ranked Latvian began to force the issue playing closer to the lines from deeper positions behind the baseline. Sevastova missed the mark on a forehand down the line as Wozniacki broke for a 3-2 second-set lead after 62 minutes.

After a coaching consultation, Sevastova came out firing earning triple break point. Wozniacki withstood the test answering with five consecutive points and firing a forehand to consolidate for 4-2.

Two games later Sevastova threatened again. This time, she cornered Wozniacki with a series of deep crosscourt backhands before banging a clean backhand winner down the line breaking to get back on serve, 4-all.




A key to the match was Wozniacki’s consistent depth at critical stages. She pushed Sevastova back behind the baseline giving the 26-year-old baseliner little to work with and breaking again for 5-4.

Losing a 30-shot rally to open the 10th game, Wozniacki pushed a stiff second serve into net for 30-all. Grinding through the next point for match point, Wozniacki slashed a service winner wide to end it in 86 minutes.

Wozniacki can rise to No. 12 if she takes the title, but that could just be the start of a Top 10 resurgence. With only 145 ranking points to defend after Dubai until the US Open, Wozniacki will have plenty of opportunity to rise even higher if she stays healthy.





 

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