Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 17 January 2020

Impressive Serena Williams 'in the zone' as she races into Auckland final

Williams, 38, takes just 43 minutes to see off Anisimova to set up championship match against Pegula

Serena Williams hits a return against Amanda Anisimova on her way to a 6-1, 6-1 victory over her fellow American at the Auckland Classic. AFP
Serena Williams hits a return against Amanda Anisimova on her way to a 6-1, 6-1 victory over her fellow American at the Auckland Classic. AFP

Serena Williams breezed into the WTA Auckland Classic final with a 43-minute demolition of rising star Amanda Anisimova.

Top-seed Williams was in imperious form as she downed Anisimova 6-1, 6-1 and will face unseeded Jessica Pegula in the final after the world No 82 stunned Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the other semi-final.

Williams' dominance of her fellow American highlighted the gulf between the 38-year-old, the women's tennis figurehead for the past two decades, and the next generation of players led by the 18-year-old Anisimova.

The mother of two-year-old Olympia said she had been working hard to juggle tennis and motherhood as she targets a 24th Grand Slam at the Australian Open later this month.

She was all power and precision as she dominated the centre of the court and moved the teenager around, running down Anisimova's drop shots and blunting opportunities for the young player to unleash her telling forehand.

"I was definitely in the zone today. I knew I was playing a really great player and an even better person and I knew I had to come out serious," Williams said.

"It feels really good. I've been working hard for a couple of years, my daughter's only two, I tend to be really hard on myself but considering everything, I'm doing pretty good."

Former World No 1 Wozniacki, who will retire after the Australian Open in Melbourne, arrived at her penultimate tournament before the year's first Grand Slam determined to add to her 30 WTA titles at an event she has never won in seven previous attempts.

The Dane got off to a promising start, breaking Pegular twice to take the first set.

Pegula, whose only WTA title came at the Washington Open last year, took control of proceedings from them on, adopting an aggressive approach that fifth-seed Wozniacki had no answer for.

She wore the Dane down in the second set and then won every game in the third.

"I knew if I was going to play defensive I was not going to win that battle, she's like the best in the world at that, so I had to step in and take my chances and trust my game," said Pegula, the daughter of NFL Buffalo Bills owner and natural gas magnate Terry Pegula.

"Caroline's had an amazing career and I know she's retiring so I'm glad I got to play her before she retires and I'm happy to get the win and really excited to be in the final."

Wozniacki has one chance left to win a title in Auckland when she partners Serena Williams in the doubles final on Sunday.

Updated: January 11, 2020 11:14 AM

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