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Wozniacki beats Wickmayer to reach U.S. Open final

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark beat error-prone Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 6-3 on Saturday to advance to the women’s final of the U.S. Open against former champion Kim Clijsters.

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark celebrates during her semi-final match against Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium at the U.S. Open tennis championship in New York, September 12, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray

Ninth-seeded Wozniacki, who became the first Danish woman to reach a grand slam singles final, 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 U.S. Open final. I cannot describe it with words. I’m so excited,” she told reporters. “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.

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 Serena 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. “You didn’t feel the pressure too much that actually you’re so close to being in a finals.”

Wozniacki executed the same game plan that lifted her to a 6-2 6-2 quarter-finals win over U.S. darling Melanie Oudin.

Playing it safe while demonstrating an athletic, all-round game, the eighth-ranked Dane won the first set despite holding serve just twice as she broke number 50 Wickmayer four times.

The Dane, who arrived at the National Tennis Center some 10 hours before her match eventually got underway, said defense was a key.

“We’d been waiting all day, so it was just about getting the feet going and to get as many balls back as possible,” she said.

Wozniacki, winner of three tournaments this year including the New Haven run-up event for the Open, claimed victory on her second match point when, fittingly, Wickmayer belted a forehand wide.

The Dane will face 26-year-old Clijsters, the 2005 champion who has returned this summer to competition after more than two years off to start a family.

Wozniacki and Clijsters, who advanced past 2008 winner Serena Williams 6-4 7-5, meet in a Sunday night showdown.

Editing by Steve Ginsburg