Caroline Wozniacki became the first Danish woman to reach a Grand Slam singles final as she set up an intriguing showdown with Kim Clijsters, who neared the end of a remarkable comeback in a heated semi-final with current US Open champion Serena Williams.
|Wozniacki celebrates her historic win in front of a sparse crowd [AFP]
Wozniacki beat Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 6-3 on Saturday after Clijsters, also Belgian, had beaten Williams in a match that ended with an astonishing rant from the American.
Some of the joy of victory was sapped by a bizarre ending, with Clijsters on the verge of sealing a 6-4 7-5 win when Williams eliminated herself by verbally abusing a lineswoman for calling a foot fault on her and receiving a point penalty on match point.
The finish confused Clijsters at first, but the end result was another incredible win on a comeback trail that now leaves only the 19-year-old Dane blocking her from winning a Grand Slam title in her third tournament after a two-year break to start a family.
The 26-year-old Belgian, the 2005 Open winner, said the chaotic finish robbed some of the happiness of victory.
"When you play that last point, whether it is a winner or by mistake from your opponent, it's a great feeling to have," Clijsters said.
"So, yeah, the normal feelings of winning a match weren't quite there.
"You want to finish that last point especially when you hit like I was," added Clijsters, who is playing her first Grand Slam since the 2007 Australian Open.
Meanwhile, ninth-seeded Wozniacki covered her face with her hand as tears came to her eyes at the end of the 96-minute match at a virtually deserted Louis Armstrong Stadium.
"I'm in the US Open final. I cannot describe it with words. I'm so excited," she said.
"It's a dream come true to play the finals of a Grand Slam, and now I'm here. I have absolutely nothing to lose."
Wozniacki won the battle of 19-year-olds by steadily trading groundstrokes against big-hitting Wickmayer and waiting for her unseeded opponent to make mistakes.
|Serena embarks on her rant [AFP]
In a match delayed more than seven hours from its scheduled afternoon launch because of wet conditions, the unseeded Wickmayer made 40 unforced errors, mainly from her booming forehand, against just 14 for the Dane.
Because of the backlog in the rain-battered schedule on the closing weekend at Flushing Meadows, their semi-final was played at the same time as Clijsters and Williams were dueling at the adjacent, 23,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium.
A sedate audience of only a few hundred gathered close around them at the 10,000-seat court.
The only cheers heard were those that drifted down from the towering main stadium.
"Maybe actually it was easier, because you didn't really feel that you're in the semi-finals," Wozniacki said.