Andrea Petkovic feasted on Caroline Wozniacki’s second serve in building a 4-1, 40-0 first-set lead. Then the world No. 1 changed up the match menu and force-fed the 19th-ranked German a steady diet of unerring drives, leaving Petkovic dining on dirt.
By the time the dust settled, Wozniacki had reeled off 10 consecutive games in silencing the pro-Petkovic crowd and stifling the shell-shocked Fed Cup heroine (she won two matches in Stuttgart over the weekend against the United States), 6-4, 6-1, to storm into the Stuttgart semifinals.
Wozniacki, who raised her record to 28-4 in avenging a Miami loss to Petkovic, is now one win removed from her fifth final in her last six tournaments. She’ll face either frequent dinner partner and good friend Agnieszka Radwanska or German wild card Kristina Barrois in the semifinals.
Because she relies on her fast feet and precision rather than power, Wozniacki is sometimes unfairly typecast as a pusher. The truth is she owns a subtle skill set. Her fine footwork, quick court coverage, consistency, ability to make mid-match adjustments and the fact that she thinks in shot combinations rather than loading up for a one-shot knockout were all on display today, as she fought back from 40-0 deficits in the sixth and seventh games to spark her comeback.
“From 1-4 down, I really played some great tennis,” Wozniacki said. “I’m really happy I was able to finish it off.”
Wozniacki’s scrappiness and speed seemed to shrink the court to the size of a sandbox as Petkovic began to spray shots beyond the baseline and net forehand swing volleys. Wozniacki saved four break points and hammered a swing volley of her own to hold for 3-4. Shortly after, Petkovic blew a game point for the third consecutive game as Wozniacki broke for 4-all. Serving to stay in the set, Petkovic unraveled, committing four consecutive errors to drop a set she once dominated in 59 minutes.
The match degenerated from demoralizing to downright dirty in the second game of the second set, when the personable Petkovic slid into a split before falling face first to the clay. She scraped herself off the court, her shirt and face streaked with red clay leaving her looking like she’d just spent a few rounds mud wrestling. The outcome was a foregone conclusion at that point.
The 5’10” Dane is trying to add more sting to her serve and juice up her forehand to contend with the power players. Wozniacki has struggled at times to finish points, but she showed a willingness to use her speed in closing at net today, hitting some fine drop volleys in what may well have been her best net play of the season. If she can continue to move forward, she has a solid shot to collect her first career red clay title before Roland Garros rolls around.