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Serena Williams through to final

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:00

Williams will go for her ninth Grand Slam title – and first since the 2007 Australian Open – on Saturday against Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic, who defeated Elena Demetieva of Russia in the earlier semi-final.

“I’m just happy to be finally back in the finals,” Williams said. “For once, an American back in the finals here so I’m really excited.”

Safina, who came in with a 37-4 record since the start of May, broke the 26-year-old Williams in the opening game of the match and jumped out to a 2-0 lead. But the momentum quickly swung.

Williams broke Safina’s serve in the fourth game and again in the eighth to take a 5-3 lead in the opening set. The Russian had a chance to get back into the match with two break-point chances of her own, but the American was able to fend her off and held serve after the first deuce to claim the set.

Though Tropical Storm Hanna is due to hit the New York’s metropolitan area on Saturday, its presence was felt throughout the match as wind gusts were noticeable during each point. The younger sister of former men’s number one Marat Safin, 22-year-old Safina seemed to be most affected by the wind, especially on her serve where she was broken three straight times to begin the second set.

While Safina, who committed 41 unforced errors, visibly started to become more frustrated with herself, Williams remained calm and kept her opponent off-balance with an array of cross-court winners and points at the net as she opened up a 5-1 lead. Serving for the match, Williams put an end to the contest with a booming serve up the middle to put the two-time U.S. Open champion in her first final at the event since 2002. Williams, who defeated her sister Venus in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, has still yet to lose a set in the tournament.

Jankovic secured a long-awaited first trip to a Grand Slam final with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Elena Dementieva of Russia in the earlier semi-final match. It was her first victory in five Grand Slam semi-final appearances.

“As you can see, I have tears in my eyes,” Jankovic told the crowd during an on-court interview. “I’m a little bit emotional to be in the final.”

Becoming the world’s top-ranked player for a week last month, Jankovic admitted that she did not feel that she completely deserved it considering the fact that she had never reached the championship match of a major. That changed on Friday, as the 23-year-old overcame a start that saw her fall behind 4-2 in the first set before rallying. In the second, Jankovic broke Dementieva in the final game, cashing in on the second of three match points when the Russian’s forehand sailed long.

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