Dubai: V. Williams d. Wozniacki

by: Steve Tignor February 21, 2014


For Venus Williams, there’s clearly something about Dubai. Today the 2009-2010 champion here continued her week-long surge, and won her 14th straight match at the event, with a 6-3, 6-2 semifinal win over Caroline Wozniacki.

Venus did it with consistency and ball movement, as she worked Wozniacki side to side and pushed forward when she had the chance. There was aggression in Williams’ game—she hit 22 winners to Wozniacki’s 11, and was 14 of 17 at net—but there was also patience. Those 22 winners were accompanied by 23 errors, a winning ratio for Venus against a steady baseliner. Before the match, Wozniacki had talked about how dangerous Williams’ serve is, yet Venus won the first set while making just 42 percent of her first balls. She saved much of her best tennis for Wozniacki’s serve; Venus created 13 break points and converted on six of them.

As for the eternal question regarding Wozniacki—“Is she flattening out her ground strokes?”—the answer today was, for the most part, no. She rolled her forehand deep and tried to create with her backhand, but she couldn’t match Williams’ pace. Despite a couple of coaching visits by her father, Piotr, Caroline looked discouraged and uncharacteristically downbeat by the middle of the second set. A bad not-up call that went against her in the second game didn’t help, but she also must feel like this is a tough match-up for her. The two players hadn’t met since 2008, but Wozniacki now hasn't won a set in any of their five matches.

Her last chance today evaporated at 2-4 in the second set, when she went up 0-40 on Venus's serve, only to see the American come back to hold. On her third break point, Wozniacki tried to do something more with her forehand, but misfired long. When she did the same thing two points later, the match had essentially run its course.

Venus, who said she encouraged her sister Serena to come to Dubai, may now have to face her in the final. Serena plays Alize Cornet in the semis, a match that Venus says she’ll be watching. She hasn’t beaten Serena since 2009, but still, Venus says, “I would love an all-Williams final.”

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