Wozniacki, Kuznetsova in final
Caroline Wozniacki (File)
Dubai - Caroline Wozniacki reached the final of the Dubai tennis championships by beating Serbian sixth seed Jelena Jankovic 7-5 6-3 on Saturday.
The top seed from Denmark, who will return to the top of the world rankings next week, will face 16th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in Sunday's final after the Russian defeated 11th-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-4 6-4.
Jankovic made the more positive start, breaking Wozniacki's serve to love as she built up a 3-0 lead and then holding off two break points when leading 4-2.
However, she failed to take advantage of four set points as she led 5-3, before Wozniacki recovered the break by rushing her opponent into a forehand error.
Wozniacki broke again to lead 6-5 and held off two break points as she served out the set.
Jankovic, who had been taken to three sets in her previous two matches, clearly began to tire in the second set, and an exchange of three consecutive breaks left Wozniacki leading 4-3.
Once again Jankovic held but failed to convert two break points as Wozniacki held for 5-3, and the Dane then broke to love in the next game to seal her victory.
"I didn't think about the score," Wozniacki told reporters when asked about being set points down. "I just felt, 'Okay, just hit the ball. Just make her win the point. Just play aggressively. You have to dictate. If you make a mistake, fine, that's what happens. But don't just put the ball in because you're done'."
Jankovic admitted that she had not played her set points well and said her recent long matches had taken their toll.
"I had those set points and I kind of rushed a little bit," she said. "I didn't really take my time and play those points. But she was very solid and she ran a lot of balls down.
"Obviously, you know, I'm a little bit exhausted. The last couple of days took a lot out of me and maybe it showed today."
Kuznetsova will be seeking her first Dubai title after reaching the final for the third time.
She defeated Pennetta after being behind for much of the match. The Italian broke for 2-1, held off a break point in the next game but allowed Kuznetsova to level at 3-3 when she netted a forehand. Kuznetsova then broke again to take the set on her fourth set point.
In the second set, Pennetta broke serve three times but Kuznetsova was able to break back immediately on each occasion. The Russian eventually held serve to lead 5-4, and then broke Pennetta for the fourth time in the set to claim victory.
"It was a difficult match, difficult conditions," Kuznetsova said. "I was trying to be aggressive. You have to realise when you try to be aggressive you're going to do a few unforced errors."