10 Jan 2015

Caroline vs Venus for Classic title

10:41 am on 10 January 2015

It's the dream final for organisers of Auckland's ASB Classic, after tennis great Venus Williams booked her place in Saturday's final against top seed Caroline Wozniacki.

Caroline Wozniacki prepares for the ball at the ASB Tennis Centre

Caroline Wozniacki prepares for the ball at the ASB Tennis Centre Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Williams beat her fellow American Lauren Davis in straight sets in their semi-final, but the seven-time grand slam champion had to dig deep after taking the first set 6-0.

Venus Williams during her semi-final match at the ASB Classic Women's International in Auckland.

Venus Williams Photo: PHOTOSPORT

She claimed the decider 6-3, but was down a break and trailing the dogged and diminutive Davis 2-1 before the 34-year-old broke back.

But Williams then found herself at 0-40 on her own huge serve, and duly lost that game.

However she reasserted herself in a third straight service break, then held to love, broke again for 5-3 and served it out to reach her second straight Auckland final.

It was far harder for Wozniacki against Czech fourth seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, who came out strong in a see-saw match, breaking the Dane in the third game, and fending off all Wozniacki's 13 break point chances in the set, including an epic sixth game featuring 11 deuces.

Strycova fired four aces and defended seven break point opportunities in that game alone, before holding her serve to preserve her advantage at 4-2.

Wozniacki was also 40-0 up on Strycova's next service game, but the little battler fought back to hold again and served out the first set - the first time the top seed's dropped a set all tournament.

Strycova came out blazing again, breaking Wozniacki in the first game and at 1-2 down, the Dane called for her coach.

Something must've clicked as Wozniacki then broke back for 2-2 and finally produced her first ace in the next game before breaking in the eighth for 5-3, serving it out for a set apiece.

Wozniacki wasn't to be stopped from there, seizing her one chance to break Strycova for a 3-2 lead, and while the fourth seed fought all the way, she conceded the match when she sent a return long after a two hour, 35 minute epic - the longest match of the tournament.