Winner takes all in women’s final

World No 1 spot up for grabs as Serena Williams sets up title clash with Dinara Safina in Melbourne

Written by Reuters | Melbourne | Published:January 30, 2009 12:11 am

Serena Williams screamed into her fourth Australian Open final on Thursday,slamming the brakes on Elena Dementieva’s 15-match winning streak.

“A perfect match for me? Oh,no,no,no. But it was definitely better,” the American second seed smiled after her 6-3,6-4 win.

Another Russian stands between Williams and a fourth title at Melbourne Park after Dinara Safina ousted Vera Zvonareva.

Fourth seed Dementieva had not lost on court this year but was no match for Williams on a centre court covered by a roof to keep out the heatwave that is scorching Melbourne. Williams kept her cool,though,and cruised past an opponent who had won their previous three meetings.

“I definitely served better,” Williams said. “It’s so important to serve well against her. She’s a really good returner. I moved better and I was definitely more consistent and I kept my cool.”

Victory over Safina in Saturday’s final will vault Williams back to world number one but the ranking is secondary to her. “That would be just a bonus,” she said.

Going for double

Williams has nine Grand Slam singles titles to her name and is desperate to hit double figures. “I have to go one more. I’m excited that I’m playing really consistent,you know,consistently at least making it to the finals of Grand Slams.

Safina will be bidding to join big brother Marat Safin as an Australian Open champion and a world number one — a ranking she will attain if she beats Williams.

On Thursday she also snapped a three-match losing streak against her opponent to advance to her second Grand Slam final after last year’s French Open.

The combination of Safina’s heavier shot-making and aggression proved too much for her fellow Russian as she closed out victory 6-3,7-6 in one hour and 46 minutes.

“Since I was growing up it has been my dream one day to be number one,” Safina said in a courtside interview. “To play against Serena and to fight for the number one is just going to be unbelievable.”