(Reuters) – Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki maintained her dominance over Croatia’s Petra Martic on Saturday to move into the final of the Charleston Open where she will play Madison Keys.
Dane Wozniacki, showing confidence after a recent illness, defeated Martic 6-3 6-4 before American Keys turned back Monica Puig 6-4 6-0 in a semi-final that was delayed for more than an hour by rain.
“I’m just so thrilled to be healthy, that’s the main thing,” the fifth-seeded Wozniacki said after making her first final of the year.
“It’s been a long time since I made this long run here,” said the Dane who won the South Carolina tournament in 2011.
The fifth seed broke Martic twice in the second set to claim the win and maintain her record of never having lost a set to Martic in six meetings.
“I served well in most of the match and I think I returned really well most of the match as well, and I just tried to stay aggressive as much as I could and tried to make (Martic) run and make her move,” Wozniacki said.
Wozniacki, world number 13, grabbed a 4-2 lead in the second set but the 16th-seeded Martic bounced back to level at 4-4 before the Dane broke back and closed out the match.
“I thought I was close,” said Martic. “But many players feel this way against Caroline. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with her physically.”
Keys led 4-3 in the first set when rain halted her match with Puerto Rico’s Puig.
The big-hitting American, who upset top seed Sloane Stephens in the quarter-finals, lost only one more game, winning eight in a row to seal victory.
Keys closed out the first set with a forehand service return, then broke Puig, the Olympic champion, three times in the decider.
Puig did not go quickly in the final game, though, saving three match points before Keys hit a big forehand return on a fourth match point to force an error from Puig.
The rain delay helped Keys.
“Honestly it was good,” she said. “I had just gotten broken and I got to go inside a reset. I think I did a pretty good job to close it out.”
Keys, who has lost to Wozniacki twice, said meeting the Dane on clay could work in her favour.
“It’s a little bit of a slower court,” Keys said. “My heavy ball will work better so I think I will be able to do a little more.”
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ed Osmond)