Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle...
Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There
This evening's first semifinal in Indian Wells featured Caroline
Wozniacki and her "bolder half," Angelique Kerber--except when it
didn't. Both women play wonderful defensive tennis, but Kerber has
learned to make the most of her first opportunity to strike offensively.
The first set reflected this difference. Going again and again to her signature crosscourt forehand, Kerber handily took the first set 6-2.
But in the second set, Wozniacki began to play much more offense, while Kerber backed off and waited, "Wozniacki style," for her opponent to make an error. Bad strategy. Wozniacki hung in through some grueling rallies, and won a game that lasted 17 minutes and featured numerous break points. It seemed that at least part of the reason for Kerber's hesitancy was that her lower back was troubling her again. At any rate, Wozniacki won the set 6-4.
So, who would take which stance in the final set? I certainly didn't know. Wozniacki favored the net more and more (nice to see) and went up 4-1. It was in that 5th game that Kerber played an unusual version of cat and mouse with Wozniacki by hitting a number of consecutive moonballs. I've never seen that many consecutive moonballs hit (by both players--Wozniacki, of course, hit moonball returns), and I'm not sure what Kerber was up to, but the game didn't go her way.
The German did hold during the crucial 6th game, however, and then broke Wozniacki. The forehand was cranking again, and Kerber appeared to come to life. She couldn't really rely on her serve, though, which also may have been related to lower back stiffness. Wozniacki broke her again for 5-3, then served for the match, and--of course--was broken back.
Kerber held, then went on an error spree in the next game, in which Wozniacki quickly went up 40-0, and held at 15. Kerber then went down 0-30, then 15-30, and then--hard though it was to believe it--she went at it with the moonballs again, and again, Wozniacki won the point. The Dane then quickly won the match when she took the third set 7-5.
It was a strange match, yet it held my attention. Wozniacki used a lot of variety. She moved forward quite a bit, and she hit some wicked drop shots. She looked very good in this oddly entertaining match, and the 2011 BNP Paribas Open champion has now advanced to the final.