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lly found the perfect partner. And my?career? from wff's blog

NEW YORK -- The last time the two womens finalists at this U. .S. Open, Angelique Kerber of Germany and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, played each other, it really was no contest.Pliskova dominated the higher-ranked and more-experienced Kerber, not merely winning in straight sets, but dropping only four games along the way.Like Saturdays matchup, the one three weeks ago was played on a hard court.Like Saturday, there was a title at stake.There are, however, some key differences, including that the earlier one was at a run-of-the-mill event and the upcoming one is at a Grand Slam tournament. And, perhaps most significantly of all when it comes to the outcome this time, when Kerber lost at Cincinnati in August, she knew she had to win to make her debut at No. 1 in the WTA rankings -- whereas now, shes guaranteed of wresting the top spot from Serena Williams on Monday, regardless of what happens in Arthur Ashe Stadium.So while there is still a lot on the line, of course -- millions of dollars, a major trophy -- Kerber does not have to deal with the pressure of trying to ascend to No. 1. Shes already assured of that.That was always a dream for me, the No. 2-seeded Kerber said after beating Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals Thursday night, when 10th-seeded Pliskova upset Williams 6-2, 7-6 (5). I was trying to not think too much the whole last few weeks about this, and now I reach it. So its something really special for me.All in all, its been quite a special 2016 for Kerber.This will be her third appearance in a Grand Slam title match: She beat Williams in the Australian Open final in January, then lost to the American in the Wimbledon final in July.Kerber has a tour-leading 53 match wins, two titles and now three runs to major finals this season, which accounts for her move up.She gets a lot of balls back. She also knows how to change the pace. She gets good angles. And, yeah, shes playing really well, said Wozniacki, who spent 67 weeks atop the WTA, finishing 2010 and 2011 at No. 1.You know, its not a lot of people who have been No. 1. Its a huge thing. She definitely has a target on her back now. Everyone wants to beat the No. 1 player in the world. Shes going to enjoy it. First, she has a match here that shes focused on.That comes against Pliskova, who never had been past the third round in 17 previous major appearances but became only the fourth woman to beat both Williams sisters during one Grand Slam tournament.I hope I didnt stop yet, that there is still one more step to go. Ill do anything for getting the title, Pliskova said. Even if I dont get it, its a big result. Im really happy to be there and even have the chance to play in the final here.The match offers an intriguing contrast in styles. As Venus and Serena Williams saw first-hand, the 6-foot-1 Pliskova goes right at opponents with big, flat groundstrokes and tough-to-handle serves. She averaged 109 mph on her first serves Thursday -- faster than the younger Williams, known for the best serve in the womens game -- and leads the tour in aces this year.The 5-foot-8 Kerber, meanwhile, is terrific at retrieving and counter-punching, dropping down to a knee at times along the baseline to get balls back.Her serve is a weakness: She was broken while serving for the match against Wozniacki, for example, and lost three service games in the first set alone of her quarterfinal against 2015 runner-up Roberta Vinci. Kerber acknowledged that aspect of her game will be key on Saturday.She also said she wants to try to control points more than she did the last time she faced Pliskova.I was just pushing too much the balls there, Kerber said, so I think I will change this a little bit. Go for it, being aggressive.---Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at . Andrew Luck lost his favourite target and the Indianapolis locker room lost one of its most revered leaders when Reggie Wayne was diagnosed Monday with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that will cost him the rest of the season. . Newcastle dominated in the early stages but City weathered the storm and then raised its game in extra time. Negredo broke the deadlock from close range after a simple move in the 99th minute before Dzeko took the ball round goalkeeper Tim Krul to seal the victory in the 105th. .Y. -- Marcell Dareus and the Buffalo Bills defence made life miserable for Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco. At this years espnW: Women + Sports Summit my colleague (and certified badass) Julie Foudy?exposed me to a?phrase: Own?your?awesome. Despite being a World Cup and Olympic champion, Foudy admitted it took her until quite recently to master that trick. And while Id like to?say my confidence hasnt wavered since the day I arrived, two weeks early and ready to take on?the world, like Foudy, it took me quite a while to own my?awesome.Growing up, I?was always?confident in my best qualities.?I knew I was?smart, athletic, funny and?tough, but?girls?werent?always valued for those things.?Boys?were encouraged to try to be?the best at whatever they did, academically or physically. I could do that, easy.?In fact, I?was?doing that,?in the classroom and on the field. I was boisterous and?uninhibited, winning pizza-eating contests, telling dirty jokes and out-racing, out-playing and?out-dueling?everyone. And though that sort of unchecked vigor seemed at odds with the idea?some folks had of sweet little girls, I was too young to care.As I got older, doing the things Id always done kept me on?top in terms of schoolwork and?sports, but it felt like in order to be successful socially, I needed to?dim my light. I saw?examples of powerful, driven?men?everywhere,?and the doting, charming women by their side.?The?same?formula that had landed me on a Division I?track team at an Ivy League school felt like it wasnt going to?land me that cute guy in my English class,?and as much as Id love to say that didnt matter to me, it did.And it didnt stop therre. All?around me, it felt like?men?had a direct?line?to success, forged by their ambition. Success for a woman was much more complicated, a delicate dance?that prized style over substance, and I began losing?confidence in the very things that had made me so proud. I found myself stifling my humor and intellect on dates.?Instead of owning my awesome,?I tried to downplay it. On job interviews and assignments, I started to worry more about what I looked like than what I had to offer.The good news is, that phase didnt last long. It just didnt feel right. I?started letting my wit fly no matter who I was with. I wouldnt hesitate to join a good debate or school?anyone?in?pick-up hoops. Not surprisingly, I eventually found the perfect partner. And my?career?followed suit. I found good bosses and mentors who valued and validated my voice, making it easier to worry less about how I looked using it.?With each opportunity Ive tried hard to make my?work?about those same qualities that?made me feel powerful as a little girl.My wish for todays young?women is for them to feel more empowered than I did?during those awkward years. I hope they find those support systems earlier than I did.?I hope they?feel like they can show their toughness, show their strength, beat the boys and stay true to?themselves. And I hope theyre celebrated for it.Life is a lot more?fun when you learn how to own your awesome. 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