Olympics: S. Williams d. Wozniacki

Thursday, August 02, 2012 /by

SerenaRRSerena Williams took another step toward a maiden singles gold medal today as she won her 15th straight match, defeating Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki 6-0, 6-3 to move into the semifinals of the London Games.

Wozniacki has one win over Williams, in Miami earlier this year, but that must have seemed a lifetime ago as the former world No. 1 struggled through a nightmare first set, lasting 31 minutes in which she failed to win a single game. Williams was slightly below the stunning mark she set in her previous matches, double-faulting on the second point of the match before being called for a foot fault as she struggled in windier conditions on Court 1. It’s hard to talk of missed opportunities in the first game of the match, but with Williams putting in second serves, Wozniacki should have taken advantage. Instead she put a couple of routine groundstrokes that should have given her break point long, then opened her first service game with a double fault before being broken after she dropped a forehand fatally short in the court, allowing Williams to run her side to side before breaking with a backhand volley. It was a dreadful opening to a first set in which Williams quickly got her serve and groundstrokes going while Wozniacki could do nothing right, hitting just one winner  before double-faulting the bagel set away.

After holding to 15, Williams was standing at a streak of 17 straight games (including 10 in her 6-1, 6-0 victory over Vera Zvonareva, who was world No. 2 for part of the time that Wozniacki was No. 1). But Wozniacki dug in and managed to raise her game, saving a break point at 0-1 in a marathon point in which she capitalized on an unlucky slip from Williams with a great backhand, finishing the point with a drop volley.

At 1-2, Wozniacki saved three break points but couldn’t find enough first serves to get out of the game as Williams relentlessly punished her second delivery before finishing a dominant rally with a forehand down the line winner to take a 3-1 lead. Wozniacki did play better in the second set, injecting pace and finding her angles on the backhand wing and even finishing a couple of points off at net, but the gulf in quality between her serving and Williams’ returning — Wozniacki served at 59 percent, won only 54 percent of points behind her first serve and 22 percent behind her second — meant that she was always playing from behind and even with Williams converting only 4 of 11 break points, it was a thoroughly one-sided affair.

Wozniacki found her best tennis in the dying stages of the match, holding to love at 2-5 and serving her only ace before finding a brilliant angled backhand winner to open the game as Williams served for the match, but it was too little and far too late as Williams put in four big serves, backing two of them up with winners, for a comprehensive victory.

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