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Safina, Wozniacki make final

WORLD No. 1 Dinara Safina overcame erratic form to beat unseeded Swiss Patty Schnyder 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals of the Madrid Open yesterday.

After her success in Rome last week, 23-year-old Russian Safina is bidding for a second consecutive claycourt title in Madrid and will play ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki in today's final.

The Danish 18-year-old earlier powered to a 7-6 (1), 6-3 victory over former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo to clinch a place in her fourth final of the year.

Safina broke the Schnyder serve to love in the opening game in the sunshine in the new Magic Box stadium and raced to a 3-0 lead.

Schnyder broke back immediately as errors started to appear in Safina's game but the Russian ultimately had too much power for the 30-year-old and three more breaks had her serving for the match at 5-2 in the second set.

She wrapped up victory on her second match point when Schnyder sent a forehand return wide.

Frenchwoman Mauresmo, twice a grand slam winner, missed a chance to serve out the first set against Wozniacki earlier yesterday and faded badly in the tie-break to lose it 7-1.

The pair swapped breaks at the start of the second set before the Dane stepped up a gear in the sixth game to break again for a 4-2 lead.

Mauresmo saved one match point with a typically elegant backhand winner but sent a forehand long on the next one to put Wozniacki through to the final.

"It was a tight one, a good fight, she made me play every time an extra shot," Mauresmo, 29, said at a news conference. "I wish I could have had a little bit more energy to make the difference out there today.

"After quite a busy week for me it's a little bit frustrating to come up short physically but that's how it is."

Wozniacki won the title at Ponte Vedra Beach and was runner-up in Memphis and Charleston earlier this year and is projected to become the first Danish woman to break into the top 10 when the rankings are updated tomorrow.

"I've beaten some Danish records before and to beat another one is great and a big step for me," Wozniacki said.

"Now I have less steps to go to the place where I want to be.

"I want to become No. 1 in the world and win a grand slam but I'm just taking one step at a time. I know that I still need to improve some things and we'll see how far we can go."

Today's final will be the first meeting between Safina and Wozniacki.

In the men's draw, top-ranked Rafael Nadal played Novak Djokovic in the men's semifinal later, with the winner meeting Roger Federer or Juan Martin del Potro.

On Friday, Nadal survived a second-set scare to beat Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-5 and seal his place in the semifinals.

Djokovic, the Serbian third seed, stayed on course for a fifth straight final appearance with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Croatian wildcard Ivan Ljubicic.


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