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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, February 16, 2018

 
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In a clash of Grand Slam champions, Caroline Wozniacki won the final three games stopping Angelique Kerber, 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-3, to surge into the Qatar Total Open semifinals.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

Deadlocked at 3-all in the decisive set, Caroline Wozniacki knew the final stretch would be a physical test.

Playing with aggression at crunch time, Wozniacki won the final three games warding off Angelique Kerber, 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-3, streaking into her third semifinal of the season in Doha—and retaining her world No. 1 ranking.

More: Halep Withdraws With Foot Injury

"Angie is in such great shape as well so I knew going into the third set it would be an even playing field," Wozniacki said. "I got a little bit lucky. I thought we both played well in periods of the match."

Wozniacki’s win, which came after second-ranked Simona Halep withdrew from the semifinals with a foot injury, means the 27-year-old Dane will retain the world No. 1 ranking for another week.

"Honestly, not really (thinking about number one)," Wozniacki said. "My goal is to just be enjoying the game, having fun out there and staying healthy. I’ve achieved (number one), but I'm really not thinking about the ranking."

Continuing her quest for a 29th career title, Wozniacki will play either two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova or ninth-seeded Julia Goerges for a spot in Sunday's final against Wimbledon champion GarbiƱe Muguruza.

In a battle of Grand Slam champions, Kerber had leads in all three sets but could not close falling to Wozniacki for the first time since the 2015 Tokyo quarterfinals. 

The Australian Open champion fought back from a break down in the first and last sets raising her record to 16-2 on the season, including an immaculate 5-0 mark in three-setters where the former New York City marathoner’s supreme fitness has been a major factor.



Kerber cranked a running forehand to break for 2-1 only to see Wozniacki break back.

A bold backhand swing volley saved a break point in the seventh game as Wozniacki benefited from a favorable net-cord that splashed over the net holding for 3-4.

Serving for the set at 5-4, Kerber looked surprised when Wozniacki ran down a full-stretch forehand forcing the German to play another shot, which she sprayed. That sequence gave Wozniacki double break point and she fired a forehand return down the line breaking back for 5-all.

Taking the ball on the rise, Kerber gained triple break point in the 11th game. Three twisting serves in a row from Wozniacki denied them as the Dane stood tall through stress holding for 6-5.

Kerber saved a set point with some tremendous running strikes working through a tricky hold forcing the tie break after 66 minutes.

The top seed seized a 4-1 lead in the tie break only to see Kerber crack successive aces. Drop-shotting Wozniacki is a risky proposition and Kerber paid the price for a dropper that sat up as Wozniacki swooped in and wacked a backhand down the line for set points at 6-4. When Kerber jerked a backhand wide, Wozniacki had the 72-minute opener.

Resetting the two-time Grand Slam champion played a much cleaner second set.

Guarding the baseline and taking the ball early, Kerber won 26 of 37 points powering through the second set in 24 minutes.

The ninth-ranked German broke to open the final set only to see Wozniacki break back.

A gripping tug of war was even at 3-all when Wozniacki made a decisive pull.

Whipping her seventh ace out wide, Wozniacki worked through a demanding hold for 4-3.

Wozniacki whipped a running forehand to break for 5-3. She served out a riveting two hour, 20-minute battle embracing Kerber at net. Wozniacki beat the 30-year-old German for the sixth time in 14 meetings. 

 

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