Fish, Wozniacki move into finals

August 22, 2008 06:35 PM
Wozniacki 225 w
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP)—Caroline Wozniacki kept up the best month of her career, moving into the finals of the Pilot Pen on Friday with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over seventh-seeded Alize Cornet.

The 18-year-old Dane began August by getting her first WTA Tour win in Stockholm, then reached the third round at the Olympics, where she lost to eventual gold medalist Elena Dementieva.

“It was just an amazing experience that you just don’t get every day,” she said. “Now I’m in the finals again. It’s been a good month for me.”

She will face the tournament’s top seed, Anna Chakvetadze. The 21-year-old Russian needed three sets to beat Amelie Mauresmo, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

In the men’s draw, American Mardy Fish upset top-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-0, 1-6, 6-3 to advance to his second straight Pilot Pen final. He will face sixth-seeded Marin Cilic, who beat qualifier Luka Gregorc, 6-3, 6-3.

Wozniacki broke Cornet in the 12th game to take their first set, but dropped the first three games of the second set before rallying. She broke Cornet at love in the final game.

Cornet, who also made it to the third round in Beijing, said she wore down midway through her second set with Wozniacki.

“She was just ready to fight on every point, and I started to feel a little bit tired,” Cornet said. “After, it was worse and worse and finally at the end of the match, the two last games, I was out of the match.”

Cornet had her left thigh wrapped after injuring her quadriceps in the quarterfinals, but said the injury is not serious and should not affect her chances next week in the U.S. Open.

Wozniacki, who beat third-seeded Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-0 in the quarterfinals, has moved up from No. 64 in the world in January to No. 22 and expects to continue her climb.

“I would love to become No. 1 in the world and win Grand Slams,” Wozniacki said. “I think everyone practicing this hard, you know, putting such an effort in it wants to become No. 1 in the world. But there’s only one No. 1. So, you know, you need to put some hard work in it You know, I still have 21 spots to go. And hopefully after this tournament I have a little bit less.”

Chakvetadze, ranked No. 8, hasn’t lost in seven previous tournament finals in her career. She last won indoors at Paris in February.

She overcame nine double-faults and some shaky play Friday, including an embarrassing whiff on an easy overhand during the sixth game of the third set. After the ball bounced, she hit a backhand into the net.

“I just lost the ball in the sky. I don’t know how it happened,” she said.

She recovered to break Mauresmo during that game and served out the match.

“I should serve better tomorrow definitely because I think Wozniacki plays more aggressive than Amelie does,” she said. “I need to put more first serves in.”

Mauresmo, unseeded and ranked No. 33 in the world, was playing in just her second tournament since Wimbledon after being hampered by injuries.

The former world No. 1 said her run in New Haven has done as much for her mentally as physically going into the U.S. Open.

“I wanted to find this adrenaline, these emotions again,” she said. “That’s also what I was missing. I was not able to find these for the last month or so. And it was pretty frustrating also to be on the court and a little bit like not really finding joy and happiness and motivation.”

In the men’s draw, Cilic will play for his first career title Saturday after overpowering Gregorc, who had won only four career matches coming into this week.

“At the beginning of the year, my secret goal was to reach my first ATP final, and I’m really glad that I did it,” said Cilic. The 6-foot-6 Croat began the year ranked No. 71 and is expected to jump into the top 25 next week.

In the first men’s semifinal, Fish dominated the first set and Verdasco did the same in the second. In the final set, Fish got the winning point on Verdasco’s ninth double fault of the match.

“I feel like with my serve and my serve game, if I can get two breaks in a set, I’ll feel pretty comfortable,” Fish said.

Fish, who lost to his good friend James Blake a year ago, is looking for his third singles title, and first since 2006.