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july 15, 2012 • 12:35 AM • last update 10:31 AM

Serena, Vandeweghe make Bank of West an All-American final

Serena Williams, of the United States, returns to Sorana Cirstea, of Romania, during a semifinal of the Bank of the West tennis tournament Saturday, July 14, 2012, in Stanford, Calif.
Foto: AP in English
 

Serena Williams' final tuneup for the London Olympics will be an All-American affair.

Williams overpowered Romania's Sorana Cirstea 6-1, 6-2 in the Bank of the West Classic on Saturday night to set up the first All-American WTA final on home soil in eight years against lucky loser Coco Vandeweghe.

"It's cool," Williams said. "Everybody's always asking about American players. Now we have a great player like Coco who's doing well and she took her second chance to the ultimate degree. I'm really happy for her. I'm glad she's American. I'm so glad she's American. If she goes all the way and wins (Sunday), I would be really, really happy for her."

Exactly a week after winning her fifth Wimbledon title, Williams cruised to another victory in 60 minutes. The quick work came despite Williams converting only 38 percent of her first serves, calling it "outrageous."

Williams hardly sweated and returned to the court immediately after the match to practice her serve.

She will go for her second straight title at Stanford on Sunday against Vandeweghe, who reached her first WTA Tour final with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory against Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer. The 20-year-old American failed to make it out of qualifying and only got into the main draw when Bojana Jovanovski withdrew with an injury.

The last "lucky loser" to advance to a WTA final was eventual runner-up Melinda Czink in 2005 at Canberra, Australia.

"It's a dream come true for me being in the finals of a WTA event," Vandeweghe said. "Hopefully this is a good omen for the rest of the summer for me."

The last American final at home on the WTA Tour came in 2004, when Lindsay Davenport topped Williams in Los Angeles.

Nobody seems to be able to slow Serena these days.

Still jet-lagged from traveling more than 5,000 miles and eight time zones from the All England Club, Williams delivered her most impressive performance of the week.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion sported a bright yellow shirt and black skirt that looked like one giant blur on the California hard court. She slammed serves and flicked forehands on every line, never needing to move much, turning the semifinal into an Olympic practice session.

Williams was hardly at her dominating best, but she didn't need to be. Cirstea double-faulted on break point to give Williams a 3-1 lead in the first set, sailed a forehand wide in her only break opportunity — in the next game, no less — and became the latest flustered and frustrated Williams opponent.

What Williams won't be happy about is the way she served. After 102 aces carried her to victory on Wimbledon's grass, she had more double faults (four) than aces (three). Then again, her opponent had twice as many double faults (eight) as aces (four) in the calm and crisp conditions.

"I really wasn't happy," Williams said. "I did what was necessary to win. I did what I knew I needed to do, and I think that's important."

Serving could be the deciding factor in the finals.

Vandeweghe broke Wickmayer in the opening game and pounded 12 total aces with a serve that topped 120 mph. She also won 31 of 36 points on her first serve.

Wickmayer double-faulted to hand Vandeweghe a service break to go ahead 3-1 in the final set. Vandeweghe saved four break points in the next game and watched Wickmayer double-fault again on match point.

Vandeweghe dropped her racket in disbelief, ran to the sideline and jumped into the arms of her mother, former Olympic swimmer Tauna Vandeweghe. The 20-year-old from Southern California had never even made a WTA semifinal until she knocked off Urszula Radwanska of Poland 6-4, 6-4 a day earlier.

Williams beat Vandeweghe in a World TeamTennis match that ended in a nine-point tiebreaker at 5-all last summer in their only meeting.

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