Safina to play Wozniacki in Madrid final
MADRID: Russian Dinara Safina will bid to win back-to-back titles Sunday when she faces Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki in the final of the Madrid Masters.
Top-seeded world number one Safina will be playing her third clay final in as many weeks after losing Stuttgart to Svetlana Kuznetsova and beating her compatriot last weekend in Rome.
Safina and Wozniacki, who put out fatigued French veteran Amelie Mauresmo 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, have never played. Safina stopped 30-year-old Swiss Patty Schnyder 6-4, 6-2, winning with two breaks per set while dropping her own serve once.
The Russian fired 28 winners and 30 unforced errors to win her 27th match of the season.
Mauresmo, 29, had spent nearly seven hours on court during the week while Wozniacki - with legs a decade younger - had needed less than five in her previous matches.
"It was a tight one, a good fight," said Mauresmo, admitting she "came up a little bit short physically."
"I wish I could have had more energy and activity to make the difference out there today. But that's how it was and she did great.
"Every time she made me play an extra shot but that's the way it is. After a busy week for me it's a little bit frustrating to come up short."
The ninth-seeded Wozniacki is keen to test herself against the current best on the women's tour. "Dinara has been playing some great tennis lately, winning a lot of matches."
The match with Mauresmo required a 65-minute first set, littered with six breaks. Wozniacki ran off to a 4-0 lead in the tiebreaker and swept into the match lead with ease.
The pair traded early second-set breaks with Wozniacki breaking away for 4-2 on the way to the biggest success so far of her career.
Wozniacki will make her first career appearance in the WTA top 10 on Monday with the start of Roland Garros looming.
Mauresmo was weighed down with five double-faults while losing serve five times. The former world number one fired 23 winners and 48 unforced errors in the contest which ended just shy of the two-hour mark.
"I didn't want to give up," Wozniacki said. "I tried not to think about the fact she had set points.
"I used to think hard and grass were my favourite surfaces, but now since I've had great results on clay I'm starting to feel more and more comfortable on it."
On reaching the top 10 in the world Wozniacki said: "That feels really great."
"I've beaten some Danish records, getting into the Top ten is a big step for me. There are now less steps to get to the place I want to be."
Wozniacki's best result this season was a title at a small Florida event and runner-up showing indoors in Memphis while Mauresmo claimed the Paris Indoor title in February.