US Open 2016

Wozniacki, Kerber not quite Poles apart

Their common Polish heritage unites unseeded Caroline Wozniacki (left) and Angelique Kerber, the friends who will meet in the US Open semi-final. Wozniacki is a former world No. 1 while Kerber could take the top ranking after this tournament.
Their common Polish heritage unites unseeded Caroline Wozniacki (left) and Angelique Kerber, the friends who will meet in the US Open semi-final. Wozniacki is a former world No. 1 while Kerber could take the top ranking after this tournament.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

NEW YORK • Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber are joined by friendship, Polish roots and cosy coffee chats, but tomorrow morning (Singapore time) they will be ruthless in pursuit of a place in the US Open final.

Dane Wozniacki eased to a 6-0, 6-2 win over Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in the quarter-final yesterday, while German Kerber swept past Roberta Vinci of Italy 7-5, 6-0.

It is an intriguing semi-final clash between Wozniacki, a former world No. 1 who has never won a Grand Slam title, and Kerber, the No. 2 who claimed her first Major at the Australian Open in January.

"We are similar in that we are both hard-working. I think that hard work pays off. She's obviously very passionate," said Wozniacki.

"Angie's had a great year and I'm happy for her."

A right-ankle injury sidelined 26-year-old Wozniacki for the best part of three months and her enforced absence from the French Open ended a streak of 36 successive appearances at the Majors.

Her ranking coming into New York was No. 74.

In contrast, Kerber has appeared in two of the three Slam finals, her success in Melbourne followed by a loss to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final.

The German, two years older at 28, could be No. 1 in the world next week, five years after Wozniacki last held the position.

Wozniacki, Kerber as well as sisters Agnieszka and Urszula Radwanska, all boast Polish blood.

The Radwanskas are Polish-born. Kerber has a Polish father and German mother.

Piotr and Anna Wozniacki left Poland to settle in Denmark when he secured a professional football contract with top Danish side Odense and Caroline was born in the city in 1990.

The four players' Polish bond is evident in holiday photos.

"We would still go on vacations, but the problem is like Aga is getting married, so then all of a sudden we're like, we just want a girls' trip, but it's tough when everyone has their own thing," said Wozniacki.

"But we hang out and we have coffees and sit and talk and have a good time."

Kerber leads Wozniacki 7-5 in career meetings but they have never met at a Slam.

Kerber's previous semi-final appearance at the US Open was in 2011, when she lost to Australian Samantha Stosur.

Wozniacki was in two semi-finals (2010, 2011) and two finals (2009, 2014).

If the German prevails tomorrow and goes on to dethrone Williams as world No. 1, Wozniacki will be one of the first to congratulate her.

"It's something that very few people in the world have ever achieved," she said. "I mean, how crazy is it to say that you're the best in the world at something?

"Doesn't matter if it's tennis, football, being a lawyer, whatever it is. It's really special."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2016, with the headline 'Wozniacki, Kerber not quite Poles apart'. Print Edition | Subscribe