By Ann Liguori
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The fans were treated to the most exciting women’s match of the tournament Monday evening when top seed Caroline Wozniacki rallied from dropping the first set, and being down 1-4 in the second, to beat 2004 US Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-1 in the third. But as the momentum shifted abruptly from Kuznetsova to Wozniacki mid-way through that second set when Wozniacki rallied back from 1-4 to take the second set, 7-5, I have concerns about how fatigued Kuznetsova looked after playing so amazing the first set in a half!
Kuznetsova played the best set and a half I’ve seen her play ever although I’ve always known she has ‘game.’ After all, in addition to becoming the first Russian woman to win the US Open title in 2004 and being runner up in 2007, Kuznetsova also won a French Open title in 2009.
But the fact that she did not have enough in her tank to keep up that level of play concerns me. Even though she may be towards the end of her career (?) you would like to think that all top players would take fitness seriously and be ‘up’ for a tough three-setter! It was so obvious that the 26-year-old completely ran out of gas. Her legs were spent. She looked like she could barely stand up let alone play a third and final set.
As Kuznetsova faltered after playing brilliantly for the first set and a half, top seed Wozniacki found her ‘A game.’ Wozniacki showed her competitive spirit, perhaps answering her critics who question how she can be the top-ranked player in women’s tennis having not won a Major Championship.
Does Wozniacki have room for improvement? Absolutely! She needs to develop an attacking game. She defends better than anyone but only moves up to the net to shake hands after the match. She can chase down any ball, which she did beautifully against Kuznetsova. She has an excellent return of serve. And the 21-year-old is fit and powerful. Now if she can develop into an ‘all court’ player, she would have a greater chance of beating the top players in the later rounds of Major Championships.
Yes, the match last evening was entertaining but if Kuznetsova would have been in better shape, to endure three tough sets, she would have beaten the top seed.
The Wozniacki- Andrea Petkovic showdown in the quarter-finals should be interesting. If Petkovic plays her A game and is fit, Wozniacki’s tournament here could be over. The two have exchanged wins this year, although Petkovic’s three set win over Wozniacki came on hard courts in Miami while Wozniacki’s two- set victory took place on clay in Stuttgart. Whoever prevails in that quarter-final will have a tall order and more than likely have to face Serena Williams in the semi-finals. If Wozniacki could develop an all-court game, it would be less painful for her.
Be sure to catch Ann’s tennis reports on WFAN 660 am. For more information on Ann, visit www.annliguori.com.
What do you think Wozniacki’s game? Leave a comment below.