Tonight, a commentator called Zheng Jie the Great Wall of China, and I hope the nickname sticks. The 18th seed and her opponent, 2nd seed Caroline Wozniacki, played a quarterfinal match in Indian Wells that was so physically and mentally demanding, there was almost no way the scoreline could accurately reflect what happened on the court. I was exhausted, just watching it.
The match lasted just over two hours and 18 minutes, but it felt as though it lasted longer. For two sets, both players were at their best, playing crowd-thrilling defensive tennis, and taking each other to the edge over and over. It was a pleasure to watch. In the third set, however, Zheng was obviously tired, and her errors increased until it was too late for her to redeem herself. But even then, she helped Wozniacki provide some very entertaining tennis.
Wozniacki defeated Zheng 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. There were 11 breaks of serve, and too many deuce games to count. Zheng hit twice as many winners as Wozniacki, but she also made twice as many unforced errors. In the end, Wozniacki hung in with more accuracy, and it paid off.
By the way, Zheng, whose serving was a big part of her undoing in the Australian Open semifinals, has been working with a service coach, and it shows.
In today's other quarterfinal match, 4th seed Elena Dementieva was defeated 6-4, 6-3 by 5th seed Agnieszka Radwanska. Radwanska threw everything she could think of at Dementieva, and the tactic worked. When it comes to changing the direction and pace of the ball, there are few better than Radwanska. And although serving is her weakness (Why, oh why, doesn't such an excellent player do something about that second serve?), Radwanska did manage to use the body serve effectively against Dementieva from time to time. Dementieva also became quite error-prone in this match, and lost her way.