US Open 2010 Women’s 1st Semi

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit:karlnorling

No.1 seed Caroline Wozniacki who is pictured above in “THAT” dress was playing for a spot in her second consecutive US Open final in the 1st semi final against No.7 seed Vera Zvonareva.

The 1.77m Wozniacki is setting the ball into position for this serve during this year’s US Open. The 1.72m Zvonareva was playing for a spot in her 2nd consecutive Grand Slam singles final after being the runner-up at Wimbledon.

The 20 year old Wozniacki was the favourite to win after beating the 26 year old Zvonareva in straight sets in the final of the Canadian Open in Montreal in their last match just prior to the US Open. However, Zvonareva played a higher level of tennis in the semi final and especially under pressure. The Russian won 6-4 6-3 in 1 hour and 25 minutes whilst only losing one service game in a strong serving display backed up consistently solid ground strokes. Zvonareva broke Wozniacki’s serve 4 times including 3 times in the 2nd set.

Afterwards Zvonareva sounded a warning to her upcoming opponent in the final. “I always believe in myself. I always believe I can beat anyone on the other side of the net if I’m able to play my best tennis. There is nothing really changed for me, you know. I know I’m not gonna play perfect tennis all the time, like most of the players, but that’s what we all trying to do. I know if I’m doing it, if I’m playing well, I can beat anyone.”

Wozniacki served the first game of the match and of the 2nd set. Zvonareva broke Wozniacki’s serve in the 3rd game of both the 1st and 2nd sets to take the early lead in both sets. In the 1st set Wozniacki only had 2 break points and they were both in the fourth game. Zvonareva held serve to go ahead 3 games to 1 and made the early break of serve stand up by holding serve for 4 straight games.

When Zvonareva served for the 1st set at 5-4 she went ahead 40-15 before converting her 1st set point with a backhand volley down the line for a clean winner. Wozniacki paid the price for making too many unforced errors early in the match especially from her forehand return of serve because the last 7 games of the set where contested very evenly in the windy conditions on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Wozniacki fell behind 15-40 and faced another 2 break points against her serve in the very first game of the 2nd set but fought her way out of trouble. The World No.2 from Denmark was willing herself on to raise her game and make a charge by running hard and reducing her unforced errors. However, her forehand let her down again when with her 1st break point of the 3rd game of the 2nd set Zvonareva converted another break point with an unforced error from Wozniacki.

Wozniacki avoided playing her forehand as much as she could by backing away to play the ball on her much more reliable and consistent backhand side. Wozniacki was doing practice shadow swings with her forehand and looked confused as to why her forehand was so inconsistent.

Zvonareva had a very short high ball from Wozniacki to move in behind after it bounced to put away for a 3-1 lead. Zvonareva seemed to have the time to hit her overhead anywhere but hit it to her opponent who blocked it back presenting Zvonareva with a seemingly easy forehand volley to finish the point and game. Zvonareva hit the shot into the net and lost the next 2 points in a row to all of a sudden be even at 2 games all in what seemed like a turning point in the match.

When asked if she thought Zvonareva would crack mentally at this time in the 2nd set in her post-match interview Wozniacki said, “I was mostly focusing on myself. For me, it was most important keep my focus, try just to move my legs, get in position, try to hit the balls in the corners so she had to run. Yeah, I just try to hang in there because I was behind.”

With what would usually be a regulation forehand Wozniacki committed another unforced error with her forehand as she went for a down the line shot to lose her serve again in the next game to give Zvonareva a 3-2 lead. Zvonareva in a big serving game consolidated the break of serve to go ahead 4-2. Both players held to 5-3 when Wozniacki served to stay in the match. At 15-40 it was double match point for Zvonareva who converted, game, set, match Zvonareva.

When asked what the key to victory was in her post-match interview Zvonareva said, “It’s the right balance between being patient and being aggressive. You know, with those windy conditions you have to play sometimes ugly, you know. You don’t have to expect to play your best tennis. That’s what I did well. I was not expecting to play my best tennis, but, you know, I was trying to be patient when I needed, and step up when I got the chance.”

Zvonareva outplayed Wozniacki by serving better, hitting more consistently solid ground strokes off both wings, moving forward to play aggressively when any short ball opportunity arose and by successfully approaching the net more frequently than her more defensive minded opponent. If Zvonareva can reproduce this combination and level of play she will win the Women’s Singles Final, which begins at 7pm New York time on Saturday 11 September.

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