Wozniacki, Rezai power into Hong Kong final
Hong Kong: Top seeds Europe powered into the final of Hong Kong`s World Team Challenge, with world number one Caroline Wozniacki and her teammate Aravane Rezai notching straight-sets singles wins.
Danish sensation Wozniacki, 20, dispatched China`s top woman Li Na 6-4, 6-3 to help the Europeans to a 4-0 clean sweep in the semi-final clash with Asia-Pacific in the season-opening exhibition.
World number 19 Rezai had dismissed Hong Kong`s top-ranked player Zhang Ling 6-3, 6-0, as some of the biggest names in the women`s game warmed up for the season`s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, starting on January 17.
"It was a great match and good preparation for the Australian Open," Wozniacki, who is playing with new racquet this year, said after her singles rubber.
Wozniacki and Li held serve in the close-fought early exchanges before the Dane broke the deadlock to take the first set 6-4.
The Chinese number one started the second set more consistently and appeared to have shaken off a tendency to commit unforced errors as she went 3-0 up.
But Wozniacki demonstrated the kind of tenacity which saw her take her 12th WTA title in Beijing in October, turning the thumbscrews to win 6-3.
Wozniacki, runner-up at the 2009 US Open, will be highly fancied to do well with Serena Williams injured.
But with no Grand Slam wins to her name, bookmakers are likely to prefer three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters for the Melbourne tournament, which starts on January 17.
"I have been playing great tennis last season," Wozniacki said. "I won six tournaments, I`ve beaten a lot of the top players and I feel like I deserve to be there."
The four-day Hong Kong curtain-raiser features four teams with three players each -- representing Russia, Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific -- in singles and mixed doubles play.
Rezai, 23, of France, gave an erratic performance marked by six double faults and a series of unforced errors in the first set but a sublime second set display which saw her take the match 6-3, 6-0.
"It was the first match of the year and it`s very hard to come back from a long training and off-season," Rezai said, adding that her goals this year were to be more consistent and to break into the world`s top ten.
Sweden`s six-time Grand Slam singles champion Stefan Edberg beat Australian former Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis by the narrowest of margins in a thrilling "legends" match -- tying at one set each before taking the tie-breaker 10-8.
In the last rubber Wozniacki and Edberg eased comfortably past Li and Philippoussis 6-3, 6-2 to complete the clean sweep.
Europe advance to the gold group final while Asia Pacific will play in the silver group final.