Wozniacki to face Osaka in Tokyo final

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Tokyo—Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki produced a spirited fightback to beat fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 and reach the Pan Pacific Open final on Saturday.
Awaiting the Dane in Sunday’s Tokyo final will be Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka, who continued her fairytale run with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina.
Wozniacki, Pan Pacific champion six years ago, starts favourite as she goes in search of a 24th career title.
But she had to claw her way back from 3-1 down in both the second and third sets against Radwanska, finally ending the Pole’s resistance on her fourth match point by forcing her into a loose forehand she dumped tamely into the net.
At times it wasn’t pretty, but Wozniacki’s gritty display will give her confidence a further lift after battling back from a wretched run of injuries this year to reach the US Open semi-finals earlier this month.
“It’s good to be back,” she told reporters after almost three hours on court.
“It’s always a grind when you’re injured to come back but you have to go with it. My body feels good and it’s nice the hard work is paying off.”
Wozniacki had seen her world ranking plunge to 74th after suffering wrist and ankle trouble, her father even telling a Danish tabloid the 26-year-old could walk away from tennis.
“I was just fighting to get healthy again and that’s that really,” she said, brushing off retirement talk. “I’m in the final here and that’s all I’m thinking about now.”
Despite coughing up the first set on a double fault, Wozniacki showed glimpses of her old form in an error-strewn match featuring 13 breaks of serve.
A whipped crosscourt forehand to take the initiative at 4-3 in the decider left Radwanska shaking her head and a full-blooded backhand drive to consolidate the break in the next game demonstrated why she used to be such a force.
Wozniacki, who carried her nation’s flag at this summer’s Rio Olympics, is looking to maintain her streak of having won a title in every year since 2008.
Osaka reached her first WTA final after recovering from a poor start against Svitolina, smashing her racquet on the court as her opponent ran away with the first set.
But the 18-year-old, born of a Japanese mother and Haitian father, roared back and closed out proceedings with an acrobatic volley down the middle of the court.
Meanwhile, Fifth seed Monica Niculescu of Romania on Saturday sailed through to the Korea Open finals to take on Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena for the crown.
The 28-year-old Niculescu, currently the world number 55, trounced third seed Shuai Zhang of China 6-0, 6-4 in 74 minutes.
Playing the first event since reaching the third round of the US Open this month, the 55th-ranked Niculescu remained almost perfect throughout the battle, displaying powerful and accurate shots against the 27-year-old Zhang, ranked 40.
The other semi-final saw Arruabarrena, ranked 90th, end the run of Romania’s Patricia Tig, ranked 135th, with a 6-1, 6-2 win.
The 22-year-old Arruabarrena advanced to the semifinals after brushing aside second seed Johanna Larsson of Sweden 6-4, 6-0. The final takes place on Sunday.
Croatia’s teenage tennis star Borna Coric is to undergo knee surgery, making his November appearance in the Davis Cup final against Argentina uncertain, the squad coach said Friday. “It is hard to predict the whole rehabilitation process after the operation… I certainly have not ruled him out,” coach Zeljko Krajan told AFP, adding that the surgery would be on the player’s right knee. Coric, aged 19 and ranked the world’s number 42, suffered a knee injury during the ATP tour in Cincinnati in August. Local media reported that his operation would take place next week.—AFP