Image by Flickr user chascow Unseeded Russian Elena Vesnina is in today's championship match.
Update April 11: As we mentioned yesterday, World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki took the title.
Now here's a rundown on how things unfolded:
It was third time lucky at the Family Circle Cup for Caroline Wozniacki as she won the Premier title for the first time, surviving some tough early challenges but easing past Elena Vesnina in the final, 62 63.
As she was still finding her feet on clay in her first event on the surface this year, the top-seeded Wozniacki ground out a 76(6) 76(9) win over No.15 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the third round, saving set point in each set; she then had another thriller in the quarters, coming from 1-3 in the second set and 2-4 in the third set to edge No.6 seed Yanina Wickmayer, 46 64 64.
The happy champion.
Wozniacki really found her groove in the semifinals with a 64 64 win over No.3 seed Jelena Jankovic, who many thought would have a strong shot at an upset; in the final, an unseeded, No.56-ranked Vesnina just couldn't continue the giant-killing run she had gone on throughout the week, showing strong net skills but never getting too close to the upset over the No.1.
"I played aggressively today and everything worked for me," Wozniacki said. "I was able to adapt my game to the clay. It's the first tournament on clay so I'm very happy the way it turned out, and it gives me some confidence I can play well on clay as well. I beat some good players here, so I'm very satisfied."
This was Wozniacki's third time playing Charleston. In 2009 she was a runner-up to Sabine Lisicki and in 2010 she had to retire in the semifinals against Vera Zvonareva after rolling her ankle chasing down a drop shot.
Wozniacki won her third WTA title of the season (after Dubai and Indian Wells) and now has a total of 15 (10 of them are Premiers). She is 15-9 in finals.
Vesnina had a very special week herself. She took out a string of seeds to reach the finals - No.14 seed Bethanie Mattek-Sands, No.2 seed Samantha Stosur, No.12 seed Julia Goerges and No.11 seed Peng Shuai. That win over No.5-ranked Stosur, also the defending champion, was her first Top 5 win.
"Caroline really makes you play. You hit a lot of balls and then you get tired, and it didn't work for me that well like the whole week before," Vesnina said. "I would consider her the best player in the world. It's really tough to play against her, believe me. Sometimes you feel she's everywhere on the court.
"It's not like she was Serena with her powerful play and smashing everybody off the court, but she uses pace and the whole court and plays smart tennis."
Update, afternoon: DVRers avert your eyes, here are the results.
World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki is the Family Circle Cup champion of 2011, winning 6-2 6-3 over unseeded challenger Elena Vesnina.
This is the first time Wozniacki has won the Charleston title.
Expect more details in the morning.
First reporting: Though hopes of a No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki vs No. 3 seed Jelena Jankovic championship in the Family Circle Cup fell on Saturday with Jankovic's 6-4 6-4 loss, another interesting final game is at hand:
Wozniacki vs unseeded Russian Elena Vesnina.
The final starts at 1 p.m.
After a pair of marathon victories against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Yanina Wickmayer in the third round and quarterfinals, Wozniacki was on her A-game in the semifinals against former World No.1 and 2007 Family Circle Cup champion Jelena Jankovic, beating the Serb in straight sets, just her second win in the pair's six career meetings. Like she has done so many times before, Wozniacki seems to be peaking right when it counts.
Wozniacki is 14-9 in her career in WTA finals and is looking for her first Family Circle Cup title, a runner-up to Sabine Lisicki here in 2009.
Vesnina has also survived some close matches this week but has also come through when it counts, upsetting No.14 seed Bethanie Mattek-Sands, No.2 seed and defending champion Samantha Stosur, No.12 seed Julia Goerges and No.11 seed Peng Shuai en route to the final. Her win over the No.5-ranked Stosur was the first Top 5 win of her career.
Vesnina is now through to her fifth WTA final, but is 0-4 in her first four. One of those previous four finals came at the Premier tournament level, at New Haven in 2009 (where, coincidentally, she was runner-up to Wozniacki).
Wozniacki leads Vesnina in their head-to-head, 4-1. Vesnina came very close to winning two more of those meetings however, at Ponte Vedra Beach - also held on green clay - in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, she held four match points in a 26 63 76(4) loss, then in 2010 she led 61 53 during a 16 76(4) 64 loss.
"Caroline is No.1 in the world and she's playing really well. She's a great player and a sweet girl," Vesnina said. "I've played her a few times and two of those matches were really close, and I won one time, so I know her game pretty well. It depends how I feel and how she plays. I'll think about my gameplan tonight."
A recap on Saturday
In perhaps the most anticipated match-up of the week, Caroline Wozniacki was just too solid for Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals of the Family Circle Cup Saturday afternoon, at times struggling on serve but managing a 64 64 win over the Serb in front of a packed house.
Wozniacki, the No.1 seed, trailed by a break three times in the first set but broke back each time, sneaking one last break at 5-4. She won the set on a backhand get that prompted an overhead into the net from No.3 seed Jankovic.
The two players hung tightly to their serve in the second set, the only break going to Wozniacki in the final game - she won the match after Jankovic sailed a backhand volley long on match point No.1. She then threw her arms in the air.
"I had a lot of chances in the first set. I was up a break a few times and I never held serve. That was kind of the key," Jankovic said. "At the same time, I missed some balls that were kind of crucial, on some important points. But that's tennis. I fought hard and played the best I could. She was more solid."
Wozniacki is now into her second Family Circle Cup final, having been a runner-up to Sabine Lisicki two years ago. "I don't remember too much about the match, to be honest - I remember I lost, and tomorrow I'll try to win it," she said. "I'm just happy to be in the finals again. It has been a great week."
Jankovic was asked about the No.1-ranked Wozniacki's strengths. "What she does best is she runs all these balls down and makes you play the extra ball that with other players would be a winner. It somehow comes back with her. She reads the ball very well. She anticipates and she's at the ball every time. So you have to beat her because she's not going to give you anything."
Two surprise semifinalists met in the second match of the day, and it was an unseeded Elena Vesnina who overcame No.11 seed Peng Shuai, 76(4) 63. Peng is tied with Wozniacki with most wins on the year and was strong early, holding two set points on the Vesnina serve at 5-4; but Vesnina was strong as well, coming back to take the first set then taking the second set comfortably.
"Four weeks ago I thought I wouldn't be able to play here. I had a serious wrist injury," Vesnina said. "Then I did treatment - Vera Zvonareva helped me a lot with that, she had this trouble before. It started to feel much better. Then Sania Mirza and I won Indian Wells and I said I just need to enjoy my time on court because when you have an injury and don't play, it's like your life is on pause.
Peng was still happy to reach the semifinals of such a big event. "I tried my best. I'm a little tired from a long tournament. After this I'll go back home. I have like three, four days off, then I'll practice for two weeks and go to Madrid."
Peng was asked what she would do with her days off. "Sleeping, going out for dinner with friends, go shopping, watch movies and just do what all the girls do!"