SINGAPORE (AFP) - Racquet-smashing Serena Williams fought back from a set down to beat Caroline Wozniacki Saturday and set up a chance for revenge against Simona Halep in the WTA Finals title match.
The two-time defending champion started poorly but after her racquet paid the price, she dominated the second set and emerged victorious from a tense deciding tie-breaker to win it 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).
The 18-time Grand Slam-winner, seeking her third straight victory at the end-of-season championship, will play Halep in Sunday's final - four days after her humiliating 0-6, 2-6 loss to the Romanian.
Halep continued her brilliant run in Singapore with a 6-2, 6-2 dismantling of Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska as the Singapore tournament's surprise package made it to the final on debut. The diminutive world number four, backed by a phalanx of noisy Romanian fans, belted 26 winners against just four conceded as she broke Radwanska five times to win in 68 minutes.
Williams, 33, said she would start out with "low goals" against Halep, after winning just two games in their group match - her worst performance since she was 16. "I'm excited. My goal is to win three games. That'll be my first goal. I'm going to go from there," joked Williams. "Hopefully I can hold serve. That would be good. Most of all, I hope to break once."
While Halep cruised, Williams' fourth win over Wozniacki this year, including the US Open final, was tough and it was the third time this season that she has been pushed to three sets by the resurgent Dane. The American pushed "reset" after the first set but when Wozniacki brilliantly saved a match point in the third, Williams needed a net cord to get into the third-set tie-breaker after slipping to 1-4 down.
"I hate to lose a match when I have match point. It's hard to sleep. It's hard to function," she said. "I thought, 'Oh my God. She couldn't play any better. Then I hit the net cord and I was almost upset on it. I was like, 'Why couldn't you have done that on match point?' "
The players are close and they sang along to "We Belong Together" at a Mariah Carey concert on Friday, but friendship was put on one side as a grim-faced Williams strode into Singapore's Indoor Stadium.
Wozniacki, who was unbeaten in round robin play, had a very different perspective after ending her season with a 10th defeat in 11 matches against Williams. "This really sucks. You know, being so close and still losing, it really sucks," said the eighth seed.