Dubai: Goerges d. Wozniacki
Sprinting in desperate pursuit of another Julia Goerges blast, Caroline Wozniacki was so far off the court she could have picked a flower from the potted plants along the front row. The 19th-ranked German turned the stadium court into an obstacle course for Wozniacki, who nearly ran herself up the wall in chase but couldn't close the gap, as Goerges defeated the defending champion, 7-6 (3), 7-5, to power into the Dubai final.
This was a match of relentless offense overwhelming determined defense. The power disparity between the pair was so striking that watching some of their forehand exchanges was like watching a duel with one combatant swinging a sword and the other wielding a whiffle ball bat. Goerges struck 39 more winners than Wozniacki (47 to 8), 20 on the forehand side (24 to 4). With her white Nike headband and brown pony tail, Goerges bears a bit of a resemblance to the young Mary Joe Fernandez, but plays aggressive tennis.
When Goerges turned her hips into a vicious down-the-line forehand to break for 3-1, Wozniacki cast a wide-eyed look to father and coach Piotr. The former No. 1 lacks depth on her forehand, but she's seldom short of scrappiness and leveled at 3-3. Georges teed off on an inside-out forehand winner to break for 5-3, but stumbled trying to serve it out. A stubborn Wozniacki saved a set point snapping a backhand down the line—her first winner of the match—then hit two stunning, running passes down the line, and eventually converted her seventh break point to cap a 12-minute game. Wozniacki held at love for 5-5.
Wozniacki excels playing off of pace, but is not nearly as proficient creating it. When Goerges sprinkled in some shoulder-high loopers, the tactic not only made her ferocious forehand drive appear even faster, it unsettled Wozniacki, who was so badly befuddled that a few of her forehand replies barely made the net. Wozniacki netted a forehand to fall behind 2-5 in a tiebreaker before slapping a fairly routine smash into the bottom of the net, bringing the breaker to a timid end.
The 23-year-old Goerges is a power player, but not a mindless basher of the ball. Though she hits big and bold enough to go for one-shot winners, Goerges can set up points with her kick serve and heavy topspin before stepping into the court. But she pulled the trigger prematurely at times and went on a walkabout midway through the second set. Coach Sascha Nensel impressed urgency on a Goerges, who spaced out as Wozniacki reeled off 10 straight points in transforming a 1-2 second-set deficit into a 4-2 lead. Then Goerges regained her range, crushed an inside-out forehand winner and danced to her seat after breaking for a 6-5 lead. A forehand on the line brought her to match point as she closed in two hours and 26 minutes.
Final opponent Agnieszka Radwanska thrashed Goerges, 6-1, 6-1, at last month's Australian Open, but Goerges sounds ready for the rematch.
"It's almost a similar game (to Wozniacki). I got killed by (Radwanska) in Australia, it's time for revenge. It's gonna be a tough one."