Serena Williams will get a chance to avenge a humiliating loss against Simona Halep after they both advanced to the championship match of the season-ending WTA Finals with victories in contrasting style on Saturday.
Williams beat Caroline Wozniacki in a thrilling contest, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6), to remain on course for a third-straight title, while Halep swept aside Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2, 6-2, to put herself in a position for the biggest title of her career.
Halep beat Williams, 6-0, 6-2, in the group stage, inflicting the American’s heaviest loss in 16 years, and the Romanian has been the form player of the tournament, dropping only 27 games across four matches against top-eight-ranked opponents.
Wozniacki served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but Williams broke back and prevailed in the tiebreaker on her third match point after trailing 4-1.
It was a bittersweet win for Williams, who has developed a close off-court friendship with Wozniacki. The pair attended a Mariah Carey concert together on the eve of their semifinal.
“It was the first match I didn’t feel great — if you take (sister) Venus out of the equation — where I wasn’t happy after I won,” Williams said.
“I really wanted to cry because Caro is so nice, we get along and we do so much together. She’s like my little baby sister, from a different mother, and father, and different country.”
Wozniacki reciprocated the affection, but being on the losing end of a 10-1 career record against the American meant she wanted to see less of the world No. 1.
“I told Serena `Can you just leave me alone? I love you, but stay away from the other side of the court. Quite frankly I’m sick of losing to you,” Wozniacki said.
Andy Murray beat top-seeded David Ferrer, 6-4, 7-5, on Saturday to reach the final of the Valencia Open in Spain.
The third-seeded Murray, who won the title here in 2009, bettered Ferrer at his own ground game to win most of their long rallies on the indoor hard court.
The Briton jumped to an early lead in both sets by breaking the hometown favorite’s first service games before Ferrer fought back from 3-0 down in the second set to take a 4-3 lead. Murray settled down, broke the three-time champion again and served out the final game.
Murray will face Tommy Robredo in Sunday’s final after the Spaniard beat Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (2).
Murray will rise to No. 5 in the rankings if he beats Robredo as he tries to qualify for the ATP finals.
“After the U.S. Open I was aware that I would need to win a lot of matches to try to reach the tour finals,” said Murray. “So it was important for me to try and get as many matches as I can against the top players between now and the end of the year.”
Top-seeded Roger Federer beat big-serving Ivo Karlovic, 7-6 (8), 3-6, 6-3, Saturday to reach a ninth consecutive Swiss Indoors final and his 11th overall in his hometown of Basel.
Federer, who is looking for his sixth Swiss Indoors title after finishing runner-up in the past two editions, will meet David Goffin after the Belgian kept up his remarkable form by defeating teenage wild card Borna Coric, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Federer racked up three match points in his final service game but needed just one, winning with a backhand volley at the net to please the partisan crowd.
“I’m unbelievably happy,” Federer said. “I never thought I would be this successful ever at this tournament. So clearly I’m overjoyed and I hope I can play another good match tomorrow and enjoy the final.”