Singapore: Serena Williams advanced to the final of the WTA Finals after beating Caroline Wozniacki in a third-set tiebreaker on Saturday, winning 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6) to remain on course for a third-straight title in the season-ending championships.
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. Williams' opponent in Sunday's final will be the winner of the late match Saturday between Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska.
It was a bittersweet win for Williams, who has developed a close off-court friendship with Wozniacki. She said only matches against her sister Venus had previously created such mixed feelings.
"It was the first match I didn't feel great -- if you take 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 like my little baby sister, from a different mother, and father, and different country."
Williams now boasts a 10-1 career record against Wozniacki, but like twice before this year the American had to come back from a set down to beat the Dane. Again, Williams made a slow start, taking only three points off Wozniacki's serve in the opening set and the frustration overwhelmed the American. After the seventh game, she repeatedly smashed her racket into the court, bringing a warning from the chair umpire.
"I don't know how many times I hit it but, boy, that racket will never do me wrong again I tell you," Williams said. "It was definitely legendary. I kind of lost my cool a little bit."
Wozniacki, who had a perfect 3-0 record in the group stage, took the opening set in 26 minutes and held serve to open the second. Williams, sensing she was slipping out of the contest, roused herself as she won the next game to love, celebrating every point with shrieks and fist pumps.
"I really thought she was going to win because she was playing so well," Williams said. "She had a whole new strategy. I finally was able to kind of figure it out in the second and then I just was able to play better."
"It clicked today. I thought `Ha! I got you now."' The momentum had shifted and, three games later, Williams created her first break points of the match, converting to take a grip on the set, which ended on Wozniacki's double fault.
The third set went on serve until the ninth game when Wozniacki made the first break. The Dane, chasing the biggest title of her career, served for the match but fell behind 0-30 and though she saved one break point, she could not save the second.
Wozniacki earned herself a break point in the 11th game, but somehow netted a backhand with the ball sitting up to be hit, and Williams held to go up 6-5. Wozniacki held under intense pressure in the 12th game, saving one match point in a dramatic rally, and started the tiebreaker confidently but the relentless Williams wore her down with powerful serves and groundstrokes. The two embraced at the net after the match.