Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki yesterday booked a return to the US Open final as China’s Peng Shuai was stricken by cramps and retired from their semi-final in tears.
Peng was taken from the court in a wheelchair as Wozniacki, leading 7-6 (7/1), 4-3, was declared the victor and will now face Serena Williams for the title.
Williams defeated Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-3 in the second semi-final to set up a clash with the Dane, who saw her match end in difficult circumstances.
Peng, in growing discomfort in the second set in the bright sunshine bathing Arthur Ashe Stadium court, was overcome in the eighth game of the second set, reeling to the back of the court where she was eventually attended by a trainer and a supervisor.
She was helped from the court and granted a confusing and controversial mid-game medical timeout as Wozniacki was left to try to stay loose by hitting a number of practise serves.
Peng returned to the court, and after a break of 10 minutes, played five more points before she was stricken again, finally crumpling to the court, her grand slam dream in tatters.
Wozniacki joined the officials at her opponent’s side and soon thereafter the umpire pronounced the final score.
“It was very difficult to watch,” Wozniacki said. “You want to battle and finish it properly. I feel sorry for Peng because she played really well. I hope she’ll be okay.
“It was really hard for me whenever I saw her collapse on the court. Tennis is great, but the health is more important.”
Wozniacki, who shocked five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova in the fourth round, is back in a grand slam final for the first time since losing in the 2009 US Open final to Belgium’s Kim Clijsters.
“It’s incredible to be in the final, I have goosebumps,” added Wozniacki, a 22-time WTA Tour winner who hadn’t reached a major semi-final since the 2011 US Open, when she was ousted by Williams. “I’ll go to have an ice bath, then watch the other semi. It’s been five years since I’ve been in the final here so it’s incredible to be back.”
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