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Rediff.com  » Sports » Cincinnati Tennis PHOTOS: Serena, Ivanovic battle into final

Cincinnati Tennis PHOTOS: Serena, Ivanovic battle into final

August 17, 2014 12:11 IST

Cincinnati Tennis PHOTOS: Serena, Ivanovic battle into final

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Serena Williams rallied past Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki on Saturday to reach the Western and Southern Open final in Cincinnati where she will face Ana Ivanovic, an upset winner over French Open champion Maria Sharapova.

Top-seeded Williams had to overcome a sluggish start to beat Wozniacki 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 while Serbian ninth seed Ivanovic eventually prevailed in a rollercoaster 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 win over the Russian fifth seed that lasted nearly three hours.

The Cincinnati tournament is the last of the key tune-ups ahead of the August 25- September 8 US Open, the year's final Grand Slam, where Williams will defend her crown.

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Image: Ana Ivanovic of Serbia plays a backhand
Photographs: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

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Cincinnati Tennis PHOTOS: Serena, Ivanovic battle into final

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The day's first semi-final was a rematch of the thrilling quarter-final in Montreal earlier this month between Williams and Wozniacki that the American won in three sets.

Williams looked a pale shadow of herself in the 29-minute first set as she held her serve only once and recorded twice as many unforced errors as winners.

"I got off to a little bit of a slow start, but I was definitely in it," said Williams, who lost the 2013 Cincinnati title in a third set tie-break to Victoria Azarenka.

"I was just physically grinding and trying to get in there and really just trying to grind out everything."

Williams came out firing on all cylinders in the next set as she opened with a break, the first of three that set, before serving out the set at love.

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Image: Serena Williams reacts during a match against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark
Photographs: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

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Cincinnati Tennis PHOTOS: Serena, Ivanovic battle into final

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The third set was a sloppy serving affair as Williams and Wozniacki exchanged seven breaks. But Williams's two holds of serve proved enough to get her into the final of a tournament she has never won in five previous appearances.

"I just didn't serve well myself today. I didn't get many first serves in. When I did, they weren't placed very well," said Wozniacki.

"It's frustrating, because you lose a match 6-4 in the third and you only hold serve once in the third set. I actually broke Serena three times in the set, too - I don't think that really happens very often to her, either."

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Image: Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark hits a return
Photographs: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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Cincinnati Tennis PHOTOS: Serena, Ivanovic battle into final

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Next up for Williams is an opponent she has dominated her entire career having taken six of seven matches versus Ivanovic, including a quarter-final win in Stanford earlier this year.

But Ivanovic, who beat Williams in the round of 16 at this year's Australian Open, will take plenty of confidence into the match having held her nerve against a determined Sharapova.

Ivanovic, seeking her fourth title this year, looked headed for sure victory after breezing through the first set and then opening up a 4-0 edge in the second for what seemed like an insurmountable lead.

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Image: Ana Ivanovic of Serbia returns to Maria Sharapova of Russia
Photographs: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

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Cincinnati Tennis PHOTOS: Serena, Ivanovic battle into final

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But Sharapova made her opponent work for the victory as she rallied to take the second set and then built a 4-2 lead in the third, only to see Ivanovic win the next two games.

Sharapova broke again and served for the match at 5-4 in the third and even held two match points. Ivanovic fought off the first with a forehand winner while Sharapova belted a forehand long on the second.

The Russian then produced consecutive double-faults to hand a break back to Ivanovic, who fought off a break point to hold for a 6-5 lead before breaking one final time to close out the tilt on her second match point.

"I really got a little tight," Ivanovic said about her second set meltdown.

"I wasn't moving my feet forward enough and played a little passive. But she's a champion and was fighting so well.

"I just had to regroup in the third set, and I'm so glad I could win this match tonight."

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Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia is dejected in her match against Ana Ivanovic of Serbia
Photographs: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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Federer, Ferrer advance to final

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Five-time champion Roger Federer tamed big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic with a comfortable 6-2, 6-3 win on Saturday to join Spain's David Ferrer in the final of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Federer won all 16 of his service points in the first set and closed out the match in 68 minutes, sending a clear message to his rivals that he is in top shape heading into the year's final grand slam at the Aug. 25-Sept. 8 US Open.

The 33-year-old Swiss, in a rematch of the Wimbledon semi-final that he won in three sets, improved to 6-0 against the Canadian fifth seed and will be playing in his second final in seven days after he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at last week's Rogers Cup in Toronto.

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Image: Roger Federer of Switzerland returns
Photographs: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

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Federer, Ferrer advance to final

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For Raonic, 23, his usual booming serve produced six aces to Federer's two, but he also had three double faults compared to none by his opponent.

He put a bit of a dent in Federer's serve in the second set but the Swiss managed to break serve for a third time in the eighth game of the second set, clawing back from a 0-40 hole, to record the straight sets victory.

"I'm playing much better (than last year). I can move freely again," Federer told ESPN after the match.

"I'm happy the results show. It's more fun playing this way. Now I am playing the right way.

"It's great for the confidence to switch from clay to grass and hard courts and keep on playing well. I've had a very complete season so far.

"This is my eighth final of the season. I hope I can win another final here."

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Image: Milos Raonic of Canada hits a return during his match against Roger Federer
Photographs: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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Federer, Ferrer advance to final

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Sixth seed Ferrer, playing his first semi-final in 11 trips to Cincinnati, breezed past Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-3 6-2 to move one win away from his 22nd title and second of the year.

Ferrer, who has reached at least the quarter-finals of all four tournaments he has played since crashing out of Wimbledon in the second round, needed just 71 minutes to earn his sixth victory in 10 meetings with Benneteau.

The 32-year-old Spaniard saved the one break point he faced and did not double fault all match long against Benneteau who was coming off a surprise win over third seed Stanislas Wawrinka.

"Of course I am in a good moment," said Ferrer. "I am in my first final this year in a Masters 1000, so I'm happy for that. (I take it) step by step and focus for tomorrow."


Image: David Ferrer of Spain returns
Photographs: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

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