Venus reaches Tokyo final, Ferrer advances

TOKYO, Oct 5 (Reuters) Venus Williams survived a scare before seeing off Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki 6-3 7-5 to reach the Japan Open final today.

The Wimbledon champion faces fifth seed Virginie Razzano in the Tokyo title match after the Frenchwoman's battling 4-6 7-5 6-3 win over Italian Flavia Pennetta.

Top seed David Ferrer advanced to the semi-finals of the men's event, meanwhile, coping well with windy conditions to beat fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-4 6-4.

US Open semi-finalist Ferrer will take on towering Croatian Ivo Karlovic next after the seventh seed outmuscled former champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia 7-6 7-6.

Former world number one Williams, who won last week's Korea Open title, fought back from 4-2 down in the second set with some blistering shots too hot for her 17-year-old opponent to handle.

Women's top seed Williams broke for a 6-5 lead with a backhand drive-volley and promptly closed out proceedings with a booming first serve after one hour and 38 minutes.

''Two finals in two weeks actually feels good,'' a smiling Williams told reporters.

''Seriously I thought 'Is it possible? Can I do this?' But it is possible. It's exciting.'' SHEEPISH SMILE Wozniacki smiled sheepishly when asked about leading Williams 4-2 in the second set.

''I thought I was close to winning the set,'' said the 2006 junior Wimbledon champion. ''But then Venus started smashing shots into the corners and I couldn't really do anything.'' Williams, whose victory was her 19th in 21 matches since winning her sixth grand slam singles title at Wimbledon, will be aiming to clinch her 37th career title in Saturday's final.

Razzano, who won her first WTA Tour title in Guangzhou last week, had to dig deep against Pennetta and was helped by a string of errors from the eighth seed in the deciding set.

Ferrer was never seriously tested by 10th seed Lopez, only briefly being thrown off by a squealing baby he pleaded with the chair umpire to have removed from the centre court.

''This court is still very fast for me,'' said the world number eight, despite looking at home on the Tokyo hard court.

''I've played three matches so I'm more used to it. But playing Karlovic will be very difficult because his serve is unbelievable.'' REUTERS BJR RN1628

Story first published: Friday, October 5, 2007, 17:20 [IST]
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