Opportunity knocks for two of the WTA Tour’s underpowered but big-hearted players as Caroline Wozniacki and Sara Errani battle for a spot in the US Open semi-finals. Check out the Errani vs Wozniacki Head to Head.
It’s been a a wonderful post-Wimbledon period for Wozniacki. She built her confidence away from the media spotlight by winning an International title in Istanbul, and followed that up with impressive runs to the latter stages in Montreal and Cincinnati, where she twice pushed Serena Williams to three sets. The Dane seems to have rediscovered her love for the fight, and her willingness to step outside of her comfort zone when required.
That was much in evidence during her fourth round defeat of Maria Sharapova. Wozniacki was expected to do a lot of running and make life very difficult for the French Open champion, but the manner in which she grabbed control of the match in the third set was a revelation. Rather than camp metres behind the baseline and wait for Sharapova to make mistakes, Wozniacki unleashed on her backhand side and aimed for the lines and corners. She even used her weaker forehand to good effect, leaving Sharapova with few targets. Defence was still Wozniacki’s key strength – her incredible trilogy of gets during one rally made it the point of the tournament – but she was also proactive, positive and bold when it mattered.
It’s been five years since Wozniacki reached the US Open final, but only two since Sara Errani made the semis in New York. The Italian has generally been on the fade since her breakthrough 2012, yet her exploits last week prove that she can never be underestimated. Her wildly uneven 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 defeat of Venus Williams was a major surprise and relied heavily on the American’s patchy play, but Errani deserves credit for producing her best tennis on the important points. She moved forwards, volleyed well and, buzzing with attitude and desire, asked Venus questions that she wasn’t able to answer.
This is an interesting match-up. We’re used to seeing power versus power at the business end of Grand Slams, and we know that power versus finesse tends to make for the most entertaining duels. Two counter-punchers going at it make less noise and fewer waves. So will it be Wozniacki or Errani who seizes the moment? The head-to-head stands at 2-1 in Wozniacki’s favour, but two of those matches were played at the ITF level in 2007 and 2008, long before either fulfilled their potential. Even their most recent encounter, a straight sets victory for Wozniacki in Beijing in 2010, came before Errani was a formidable force on the tour.
Wozniacki has more to lose here. She might not be a big hitter, but she has more punch than Errani, a better serve and a wider wingspan. A loss to the diminutive Italian two days after edging the mighty Sharapova would be a huge disappointment, especially when she is playing her best tennis in years. That said, she could have a hard time hitting through Errani. Dealt her own backboard medicine, Wozniacki will have to come up with the bigger shots time after time; for all her increased positivity of late, that is not something she is used to doing.
Prediction: Wozniacki will overcome some initial frustrations to take out Errani in two close sets.