Caroline Wozniacki kept herself occupied during changeovers by testing her strings with a tension monitor. If a device for monitoring the stress level of her supporters existed, it might well have resembled an EKG reading as the fourth seed stared down a one-set, 4-5 deficit to Sofia Arvidsson.
Managing spiking stress levels calmly and running down nearly everything her opponent struck, Wozniacki responded by reeling off nine of the last 11 games in rallying for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory.
The defending Indian Wells champion responded to her predicament doing what she does best: Scrambling, hustling, and defending with determination to draw errors from Arvidsson, who had won eight of her last nine matches, including the Memphis final.
The 56th-ranked Swede cites Bruce Springsteen as her favorite musician, and she played the role of the boss in breaking Wozniacki in the opening game and again in the seventh game for a 5-2 lead. Arvidsson possesses more power than Wozniacki and was effective changing direction and driving the ball down the line off both wings. The longest rally of the 43-minute opening set spanned 29 shots, ending with Arvidsson stabbing a defensive forehand from behind the baseline that coaxed an errant forehand from Wozniacki.
The Dane broke to open the second set, and the pair traded three straight breaks midway through. Arvidsson struck shots with authority, but if she watches a tape of this match, she'll surely reflect on some of ill-timed drop shots she hit that sat up as if placed on a tee against one of the quickest players in the Top 20. Wozniacki raced forward to pounce on a lame dropper and crack a forehand winner to break at love for a 6-5 lead, and when Arvidsson drove a forehand beyond the baseline soon after, the match was level.
Wozniacki dispatched another inviting drop shot to break in the first game of the third set, staved off a break point to survive a lengthy second game, and broke again for a 3-0 third set lead. Wozniacki, who often played deep drives down the middle to minimize her opponents angles, was winning the war of attrition, but Arvidsson, who's seven years older than her 21-year-old opponent, refused to relinquish the fight, closing to 2-3 with a forehand winner down the line. That would prove to be her last stand. Arvidsson had won her last two matches against Top 5 opponents, but could not dent the defense of Wozniacki. The former No. 1 won 12 of the final 15 points. Fittingly, Wozniacku ran down yet another dropper and smacked a forehand winner to end a physical two hour, 37-minute enounter.
"I've known Sofia since I was 12 and I knew it was gonna be a tough match," Wozniacki said afterward.
Will Wozniacki pay the price for some of the punishing rallies she won tonight? Next up for her is former Indian Wells champ Ana Ivanovic, whom she beat in Dubai last month.