Friday, March 15, 2013

Wozniacki beats Kerber, advances to Indian Wells final

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
   Agreed to have a battle...
         Lewis Carroll
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.


Sunny nine said...

Wozniacki did come forward more and was more aggressive with her shots. But my memory says that Woz started the moonballing in the second set. I don't like the moonballing. Given what Woz showed tonight both her and Kerber can be aggressive and strike. So why play this moon game.

Diane said...

A moonball now and then is necessary foe staying in the point and/or for buying some time (think Patty Schnyder). But I really don't know what they were thinking last night.

Sunny nine said...

I understand, maybe, the necessity of a moonball, although there are plenty of women that don't use them. It is just that Kerber is a great striker as well as a defender. I have seen more and more of Wozniacki trying to be more aggressive and last night was the first time I thought she was consistently aggressive when needed and even coming forward and taking balls early. The long moonballing "rallies" on purpose seemed cheap. When they both were striking the balls and creating winners while still defending, well that was great. In fact Wozniacki had a significantly high number of winners-I believe the commentator on TennisTV said 20 at one point.
I like an all around game, but probably prefer aggressiveness with the ability to defend. In fact, before Andy Murray won a Major, I thought it was rather sexist in the way the media treated Wozniacki as opposed to Murray. He is mainly a defensive player and commentators would talk about how he needed to come forward and strike with his forehand. But I didn't hear the extreme criticism that Wozniacki received and he received much more praise for his defensive abilities. I never heard anyone call him a backboard like they did Wozniacki.

Diane said...

Well, another reason Woz took a big hit from the sports media was that she was ranked number 1 in the world, but still couldn't be aggressive in really big moments.

That whole moonball thing from the semifinal has me mystified. What were they thinking?

But other than that, I thought Caroline did a really good job. she got my attention; it was a very nice performance--clever, aggressive, good touch.

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