Monday, September 7, 2009

U.S. Open: Kuzzy out, Woz in

Until today, Caroline Wozniacki had not reached the quarterfinals of a major tournament. But tonight, in Arthur Ashe Stadium, she defeated the 2004 champion 2-6, 7-6, 7-6 in the round of 16. Kuznetsova hit nine aces, four of them when she was in a state of desperation, saving match points. Yet at other times, when she needed just to keep the ball out of the net, she couldn't do it. The number 6 seed also hit 59 winners, while her opponent hit only 16.

Those strange number help tell Kuznetsova's sad story in tonight's match. She served well, and she had the match on her racquet, even serving for it in the second set, but she became so error-prone that--for long patches--she could not do anything right. And while she dug herself out of hole after hole--in the end--she was too overcome by the occasion to create a victory. 2 hours, 23 minutes, and 63 unforced errors after the first ball was hit, the Russian went out, a victim more of her own undoing than anything else.

Having said that, I should add that Wozniacki hung in very well, and demonstrated, by winning both tiebreaks, that she could handle the occasion. Her defensive play was often excellent, and--unlike her opponent--her spirit never flagged. She made Kuznetsova work hard for almost every point, and she also displayed considerable ahtleticism in many points.

Wozniacki's victory means that Melanie Oudin will not get another shot at taking down a seeded Russian in the quarterfinals. The 9th seed took care of that for her, breaking one of the oddest patterns to ever emerge in a major tournament.

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