Pals Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki should mean intense U.S. Open final

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiCorey Sipkin/New York Daily News Serena Williams only needs two sets to put away Ekaterina Makarova.

It’s not quite another vacation together in South Beach, but Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki will frolic again in Ashe Stadium on Sunday in a feel-good U.S. Open final.

Maybe frolic is the wrong term. Actually, they will attempt to pulverize each other. Williams will fire rockets at Wozniacki, who will do her best to harness the power of those turbo-strokes, redirect the kinetic energy back at her bigger opponent. Good friends do not necessarily make for enthralling finals, but there’s real hope that this match between the two celebrity pals will turn into something better than the sad spectacles that passed for semifinals on Friday.

“She’s a fun girl, fun to be around,” Wozniacki said of Serena, after reaching her first Grand Slam final in five years. “She makes me laugh. An inspiring person.”

Wozniacki and Williams reached this final in two very different, disappointing ways – Wozniacki by the frightening retirement of Peng Shuai due to heat illness and systemic cramps; Serena, by a one-sided dismantling of overmatched Ekaterina Makarova.

Williams’s 6-1, 6-3, victory required exactly one hour and was not nearly as dramatic. Under the pressure of Serena’s heavy groundies, Makarova’s forehands flew all over the place and she was broken again and again, losing nine straight games during one span. When Makarova netted a forehand in the first game of the second set, she was broken again and the match was headed for an abrupt finish.

Serena Williams greets Ekaterina Makarova after her win.Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News Serena Williams greets Ekaterina Makarova after her win.

“Against Serena, you need to play more aggressive than she, but she’s doing it so well and hitting ball so early,” Makarova said. “I was trying to make her move, but she was unbelievable today, playing unbelievable angles.”

Williams has defeated Wozniacki in eight of their nine career meetings, which might help explain why the usually private American star has embraced Wozniacki so enthusiastically.

“She wants to win and go for her first Grand Slam and I want to go for a little bit of history,” said Williams, who will try to tie Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert with 18 major titles.

For Serena, this is her first major final of the year, after disappointments in Melbourne, Paris and London.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiCorey Sipkin/New York Daily News Serena Williams will face Caroline Wozniacki on Sunday.

“There’s always skeptics, people might write, might not believe,” Williams said. “I worked hard for Wimbledon. I worked hours. I was shocked when I lost. Maybe it’s just paying off now.”

Wozniacki and Williams have been aiming for this matchup since the tournament draw came out more than two weeks ago.

“We said when the tournament started, ‘Look we’re in separate sides of the draw, we can meet in the final,’” Wozniacki said. “She’s obviously on fire, but we’ve had two close matches in the last few weeks. Hopefully, it’s third time a charm. This time it’s going to be different. I have nothing to lose, only things to win.”

Williams said she would have no psychological problems at all facing her friend.

“If I can play Venus, I can play anybody,” Serena said. “We’ve actually lived together for 33 years, which is kind of sad.” 

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