U.S. Open: Wozniacki d. Petkovic

Thursday, September 08, 2011 /by

201109081637598663546-p2@stats_com NEW YORK—Andrea Petkovic celebrates her 24th birthday tomorrow, but Caroline Wozniacki was in no mood to hand out party favors today. The world No. 1 gave Petkovic the runaround for a set and a half today, then withstood a late rally to celebrate her third straight trip to the U.S. Open semifinals.

Displaced from Louis Armstrong Stadium due to a crack on the court, Wozniacki refused to wilt when Petkovic served for the second set and broke back to spark a 6-1, 7-6 (5) victory on Court 13.

In her previous match, the top seed left too many shots short and center before roaring back from a one-set and 4-1 deficit to defeat 2004 U.S. Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova. Learning from her mistakes, Wozniacki struck shots with greater authority and ambition at the outset today.

This was a tale of two dramatically different sets. A razor sharp Wozniacki won 12 of 15 points played on her serve and converted all three break points to breeze through the opener in 27 minutes, as Petkovic struggled to tame her shots from straying beyond the lines. The 10th-seeded German erupted in a primal scream when she slapped a forehand into net to fall into a 6-1, 2-1 hole after 50 minutes, prompting an observer to turn and say, "You know the story: Wozniacki won’t miss and Petkovic misses too much."

Wozniacki ripped a running forehand pass up the line, then broke for 5-3 as Petkovic floated a forehand long. But then Petkovic, who beat Wozniacki in three sets in Miami in March, began to find her range and rhythm. She bolted a backhand return winner down the line to break back and held at love for 5-all. Two games later, Petkovic served to level the match but quickly fell into a triple break point hole and dropped serve.

Slamming shut that window of opportunity, Wozniacki showed why she owns an 11-3 record vs. Top 15 opponents this season. Operating under the premise that points are more often lost rather than won, Wozniacki ran down everything Petkovic pounded at her. The German drew the mid-court ball she sought, but in a concession to Wozniacki’s speed, she tried to squeeze a forehand too close to the line and missed the mark, as Wozniacki took a 5-3 lead in the breaker she never relinquished.

Spare a thought for Petkovic, who suffered a torn right meniscus in last month’s Cincinnati quarterfinals—the same knee in which she underwent surgery three years ago to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament—and played through the injury without complaint.

A streaking Wozniacki registered her ninth straight win to set up a highly-anticipated semifinal showdown with Serena Williams, who has not surrendered a set in five tournament wins. Serena is 2-0 lifetime against Wozniacki, though they haven't met since late 2009, at the WTA Championships.

Serena is such a powerful physical presence on court she seems to shrink her half of the court to the size of a hopscotch board—seldom has a No. 28 seed been such a strong favorite against a reigning world No. 1—but Petkovic believes if Wozniacki can sustain her baseline consistency and mix it up enough to keep Serena off balance, she has a legitimate shot to reach her second Open final.

"Caroline is one of the most underestimated players because you have to win each and every point against her; if you don't you lose,” Petkovic said. “If Serena struggles a little and Caroline plays consistent she definitely has a chance."

Richard Pagliaro

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