Ill Peng retires, setting up Williams-Wozniacki final

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Ill Peng retires, setting up Williams-Wozniacki final
Peng Shuai of China falls to her knees and stops play as she is helped my medics and Caroline Wozniacki (C) of Denmark during their 2014 US Open Women's Singles - Semifinals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 5, 2014 in New York. Wozniacki booked a return to the US Open final on Friday as China's Peng Shuai retired from their semi-final a victim of cramps. Peng was taken from the court in a wheelchair as Wozniacki was declared the victor, leading 7-6 (7/1), 4-3. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark looks on against Shuai Peng of China during their women's singles semifinal match on Day Twelve of the 2014 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2014 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Shuai Peng of China holds her knee after an injury against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their 2014 US Open women's semifinal singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 5, 2014 in New York. Peng returned to the match but had to withdraw due to the injury. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Shuai Peng of China (L) is helped by a trainer (C) and an official after an injury against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their 2014 US Open women's semifinal singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 5, 2014 in New York. Peng returned to the match but had to withdraw due to the injury. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Peng Shuai of China is wheeled off the court as she is helped my medics after having to retire from a medical injury against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their 2014 US Open Women's Singles - Semifinals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 5, 2014 in New York. Wozniacki booked a return to the US Open final on Friday as China's Peng Shuai retired from their semi-final a victim of cramps. Peng was taken from the court in a wheelchair as Wozniacki was declared the victor, leading 7-6 (7/1), 4-3. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Shuai Peng of China (L) is helped by a trainer (R) and an official after an injury against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their 2014 US Open women's semifinal singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 5, 2014 in New York. Peng returned to the match but had to withdraw due to the injury. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Shuai Peng of China is taken from the court in a wheelchair after an injury against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their 2014 US Open women's semifinal singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 5, 2014 in New York. Peng had to withdraw due to the injury. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Shuai Peng of China (C) is helped from the court after an injury against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their 2014 US Open women's semifinal singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 5, 2014 in New York. Peng returned to the match but had to withdraw due to the injury. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark hits a return to Peng Shuai of China during their US Open 2014 women's singles semifinals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 5, 2014 in New York. Wozniacki booked a return to the US Open final on Friday as China's Peng Shuai retired from their semi-final a victim of cramps. Peng was taken from the court in a wheelchair as Wozniacki was declared the victor, leading 7-6 (7/1), 4-3. AFP PHOTO/Stan Honda (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Peng Shuai of China is help bya trainer (C) during her match against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles semifinals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 5, 2014 in New York. Wozniacki booked a return to the US Open final on Friday as China's Peng Shuai retired from their semi-final a victim of cramps. Peng was taken from the court in a wheelchair as Wozniacki was declared the victor, leading 7-6 (7/1), 4-3. AFP PHOTO/Stan Honda (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark returns a shot against Shuai Peng of China during their women's singles semifinal match on Day Twelve of the 2014 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2014 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Caroline Wozniacki (R) of Denmark looks on as Shuai Peng (C) of China is tended to by trainers after getting injured in their women's singles semifinal match on Day Twelve of the 2014 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2014 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)
Peng Shuai of China falls to her knees and stops play as she is helped my medics and Caroline Wozniacki (C) of Denmark during their 2014 US Open Women's Singles - Semifinals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center September 5, 2014 in New York. Wozniacki booked a return to the US Open final on Friday as China's Peng Shuai retired from their semi-final a victim of cramps. Peng was taken from the court in a wheelchair as Wozniacki was declared the victor, leading 7-6 (7/1), 4-3. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark reacts after defeating Shuai Peng of China during their women's singles semifinal match on Day Twelve of the 2014 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2014 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Caroline Wozniacki (R) of Denmark looks on as Shuai Peng of China is tended to by trainers after getting injured in their women's singles semifinal match on Day Twelve of the 2014 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2014 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, hits balls into the stands after winning by forfeit over Peng Shuai, of China, during the semifinals of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, in New York. Peng left the court in a wheel chair with leg cramps and was unable to return. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
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NEW YORK (AP) -- Overcome by heat and humidity in the second set of her U.S. Open semifinal, China's Shuai Peng paused between points to clutch at her left thigh and put her weight on her racket as if it were a cane.

Still, she tried to continue Friday against Caroline Wozniacki.

One point later, Peng dropped her racket and grabbed at her right knee, then staggered toward the wall behind the baseline and leaned against it, wiping away tears, until a trainer ran to her side. Others arrived, too: a doctor, the chair umpire, a tournament official, a security guard, a ballkid with an umbrella to offer shelter from the sun.

Fighting pain in both legs and her back, a limping Peng was helped over to a hallway adjacent to the court, where it was determined she had heat illness and needed treatment. In all, it was a 10-minute delay, which Wozniacki used to practice serving. Yet again, Peng tried to play on. She stuck it out for six more points, before collapsing to the ground, resting on her hands and knees as Wozniacki walked around the net to check on her. Peng stopped while trailing 7-6 (1), 4-3, allowing Denmark's Wozniacki to reach her second Grand Slam final.

At a news conference more than four hours later, Peng said she was feeling better. She was not sure whether, in the end, she was the one who said she had to retire or was told to (although tournament director David Brewer said it was Peng's decision).

60-Second Slice: Day 12


Peng, who is 28, did recall how she reacted when the doctor suggested it might be a good idea to quit.

"I said, `No, no, no. I don't want to give up. I want to try one more time,'" said Peng, who was playing in her first semifinal in 37 career major tournaments. "I knew I'm not going to stay maybe too long, but I just want to try, you know. I just wanted to challenge her one more time."

Eventually, Peng was taken away in a wheelchair, closing the scary and surreal scene.

"It was really hard to watch," said the 10th-seeded Wozniacki, who lost the 2009 U.S. Open title match. "To see her struggling out there - I just wanted to make sure she was OK."

In Sunday's final, Wozniacki will face good pal Serena Williams, who overwhelmed 17th-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-1, 6-3 to extend her U.S. Open winning streak to 20 matches. If she can make that 21 in a row, the No. 1-ranked Williams will become the first woman since Chris Evert in the 1970s to win three consecutive titles at the tournament.

"I can say: Yes, she's much better than everyone," Makarova said, when asked to compare Williams to today's other top players.

Seeking a sixth U.S. Open championship and 18th major singles title overall, which would tie her with Evert and Martina Navratilova, Williams has won all 12 sets she's played these two weeks. While warming up for her semifinal - in which she won nine straight games and 22 of 24 points in one stretch - Williams saw on TV what was happening to Peng.

"I was really, really, really saddened by it. She's such a great person. We train sometimes at the same academy," Williams said. "You never want to see anyone go out like that."

Peng, who spoke during the tournament about nearly being forced to quit tennis after having heart surgery at age 12, began showing signs of distress early in the second set, rubbing her legs between points.

When things got really bad, she said, she felt cramping that made it hard to breathe.

Players are not allowed to get medical treatment from a trainer or doctor in the middle of a game if all that is wrong is cramping. If that's what makes them take a break during the course of play, they can be docked a point - or even a full game - for taking too much time.

But a broader diagnosis of heat illness does make a player eligible for treatment.

"It was determined that it would not be physically harmful for her to go back out and try to play tennis again," Brewer said.

Wozniacki did not complain - while all of this was happening or later at her news conference - about the lack of a penalty for time violation.

She was, however, thrown off a bit by the whole scene.

"First of all, you want her to be OK," Wozniacki said. "Then you also are thinking she might still be able to compete, so you have to kind of ... try and think about yourself as well and just say, `OK, she might just go out there and start to hit winners.' So you have to be ready for everything."

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