If this were boxing, Caroline Wozniacki would have beaten Peng Shuai of China on a technical knockout. But this was tennis, the temperature was in the mid-80s and the humidity a crippling 65%. If you’ve ever experienced this kind of weather on the North-East coast, you’d know to stay inside in air conditioning.
It’s been five years since Wozniacki has won a place in a Grand Slam final, and everyone was rooting for her since her much-publicized breakup with Rory McIlroy earlier this year. For Peng though, this was her first Grand Slam semifinal and, while her performance at the U.S. Open has been impressive, currently ranked #39 in the world, she was not the favorite to win.
Although Wozniacki seemed the superior athlete, Peng put up a good fight in the first set, forcing a tiebreaker at six games all. Peng won her service on the first point of the tiebreak, but then lost the next seven points to Wozniacki who forced a series of long rallies on an ailing Peng. In between points, Peng looked as though she was struggling for breath, but managed to get herself together for the second set after a five minute break.
Peng won the first two games of the second set, but then lost the next four games. She seemed good on the first couple of points of each of those four games, but then began visibly wilting from what looked like exhaustion. After six games, a medical timeout was called and Peng was allowed a 10-minute break – seven minutes to assess whether she was suffering from ‘heat illness’ and three minutes of injury time.
However, after losing the next game, Peng hit the ground again. This time the match was called at 5-3, and Wozniacki was through to the final, 7-6, 5-3.
In the other semifinal, Serena Williams wasted no time at all beating Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, in a little under an hour.
Williams has won eight of the nine games she’s played against Wozniacki, and is the favorite to win her 18th Grand Slam singles title, which would tie her with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.