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By Richard Pagliaro
© Dave Saffrin

(September 10, 2010) Vera Zvonareva went for broke and reaped the most rewarding win of her US Open career in the process. Zvonareva ruptured strings in multiple racquets, disrupted the previously impenetrable defense of Caroline Wozniacki, but never suffered the slightest cracks in concentration. The seventh-seeded Russian scored a stirring 6-4, 6-3 victory over top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki to advance to Saturday night's US Open final.

Zvonareva snapped Wozniacki's 13-match winning streak by playing with purpose and passion in persistently pushing the 2009 US Open finalist into defensive positions on the court.

"It was a tough match. Caroline is a great player," Zvonareva said. "It was very difficult for both of us in this wind today. I think I was patient and aggressive like I was in the previous matches."

It is the second straight Grand Slam final appearance for Zvonareva, who beat former World No. 1 players Jelena Jankovic and Kim Clijsters en route to the Wimbledon final in July before bowing to defending champion Serena Williams.

Smacking stinging flat shots, Zvonareva forced Wozniacki, one of the quickest counter-punchers in tennis, wide on both her forehand and backhand sides.

"She played a really good game definitely. She was not missing a lot," Wozniacki said. "She was going for her shots. Most things were going in. I made some mistakes today I normally don't do. It was a tough day for me today at the office. That's the way tennis is sometimes."

Wozniacki surrendered just 17 games in reaching the final four; the fewest game conceded in reaching the US Open semis since Serena Williams permitted 14 games in 2002. The   windy conditions, the physical demands of playing her 22nd match since Wimbledon and the flattter shots zinging from Zvonareva's racquet conspired against Wozniacki, who seldom mis-hits the ball, but shanked several shots today and did not make the clean contact she's shown in beating Zvonareva in the Montreal final and Nadia Petrova in the New Haven final to capture the US Open Series.

The blond Dane is nicknamed "Sunshine" for her perpetually positive demeanor, but she showed her frustration in swiping her racquet at the court after Zvonareva broke for a 3-2 second-set lead. She won three of the final four games to close out the one hour, 25-minute match.

Zvonareva celebrated her 26th birthday on Tuesday and will try to capture her first career Grand Slam title on Saturday night when she takes on either the second-seeded Clijsters or third-seeded Venus Williams in the prime-time final. She will be a decided under dog against either opponent. Two-time champion Venus has beaten Zvonareva in seven of eight meetings; defending champion Clijsters is 5-2 lifetime against the Moscow native.




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