Friendly fire as Serena, Wozniacki eye US Open title

 Good friends Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki will get together again on Sunday, but the US Open final won`t be another day at the beach.

AFP| Updated: Sep 07, 2014, 06:19 AM IST
Friendly fire as Serena, Wozniacki eye US Open title

New York: Good friends Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki will get together again on Sunday, but the US Open final won`t be another day at the beach.

There`s just too much on the line for both players to let affection get in the way.

"She`s a fun girl, fun to be around," said Wozniacki, who vacationed with Williams in Miami this year after both endured early French Open exits.

"She always makes me laugh and makes everyone around her laugh," she said, but adds: "I`m on court to win, and it doesn`t matter who`s on the other side."

The two friends had been eyeing the possibility of a title showdown ever since they were drawn in opposite halves.

"We were saying when the tournament started, `We`re in separate sides of the draw, so hopefully we can meet in the finals. It would be great if that were to happen.`"

Now that it has, the buddies will battle for a title that has vital -- if different -- significance for each.

Williams won her 17th Grand Slam title at the US Open last year.

Her pursuit of an 18th -- to match Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on the all-time list behind the record 22 of Steffi Graf -- has since been stalled.

Williams is trying to match Evert as the only woman in the Open era to win at least three straight US titles, and to equal Evert`s record of six titles overall.

Wozniacki, meanwhile, is trying to win her first major title, something she couldn`t do even as she reached the top of the world rankings in 2010 and 2011.

"We obviously have two very different motivations. We both have a lot to go for," said Wozniacki, who was 19 when she fell to Kim Clijsters in the 2009 US Open final.

Rather than becoming a perennial contender, she hadn`t made it back to a Grand Slam final until this week.

"She obviously wants to win and go for her first Grand Slam, and I want to win and try to make a little history," said Williams, who goes into the match a prohibitive favorite.

She has won eight of their nine meetings -- including two three-set triumphs in US Open tune-up events in Montreal and Cincinnati.

But the tenacious Dane is undaunted.

"I always believe in myself when I go out to play," Wozniacki said.

"I definitely believe that no matter who stands on the other side of the net I can win the match."
While Wozniacki is well aware of the challenge Williams poses, she is encouraged by their last two encounters.

"When she`s on fire, she`s hard to beat," Wozniacki said. "But I have had two tough matches against her the last few weeks. I was really close. Hopefully for me that would be third time`s the charm.

"It`s going to be exciting."

Williams is expecting another close match.

"She knows my game well and she knows how to play," Williams said. "She`s so consistent, that`s one of the things that makes her really tough."

Williams, who hasn`t dropped a set en route to the final, says taking on so familiar a foe won`t dull her edge. She`s had practice taking on her sister Venus.

"If I can play Venus, I can play anybody," she said. "I grew up with Venus."

The key in the face of Wozniacki`s persistence, Williams said, "Just stay calm, just be able to relax and be happy."

Wozniacki -- who toppled five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova in the fourth round -- believes she`ll benefit from the experience of her first US Open final.

"I didn`t know what to expect from my nerves," she said of that match against Clijsters. "She had been out there before. So this time it`s going to be different.

"I have definitely learned a lot in those years. I have learned more about myself," said Wozniacki, who has come on strong this season since the painful and public end of her engagement to star golfer Rory McIlroy.

"It would mean so much to me," added Wozniacki, although she denied that she needs a Grand Slam win to validate her career.

"I think I`ve proven myself," she said. "Most of all I`ve proven to myself I`m a great player. Being number one in the world -- I think I`m validated enough."