Wozniacki Beats Makarova in Korea Open Semis, Seeks First Title in 2012

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In the high-quality battle between Makarova’s lefty forehands and Wozniacki’s backhands, Wozniacki edged out the win to advance to the final of the Korea Open.  Former world no. 1 Wozniacki, currently ranked no. 11, is seeking her first title in 2012.

From the start of the match, Makarova’s backhands were a clear disadvantage to her game.  While the world no. 28 played an aggressively entertaining match, featuring her lefty forehands and a swift touch at the net, her backhands were not as stellar as her forehands or volleys.  Makarova hit a wide BH, to get broken in her first service game.

Meanwhile, top seed Wozniacki’s backhands were on-song.  She used that shot to keep Makarova pinned behind the baseline and her defensive abilities frustrated Makarova.  Sensing the threat from Wozniacki’s backhands, Makarova began serving more often to Wozniacki’s forehand side.  However, after a double-fault, Makarova was broken for the second time in the first set, to go 1-5 down.  Wozniacki successfully served out the first set, 6-1.

In the rallies, Wozniacki seemed to target Makarova’s backhand.  This proved to be a solid tactic.  However, Makarova started to find the range on her backhands.  She also showed her fine volleying techniques, which started to win over the crowd.  When Wozniacki was serving at 1*-2, Makarova hit a great volley to get to deuce.  Off a wide forehand from Wozniacki, Makarova gained BP.  While Wozniacki played great defensive tennis to keep up with Makarova’s attacking game, a FHDTL from Makarova won her the first break of the second set.

While Makarova hit another great volley in her next service game, she played a weak game and gave BP to Wozniacki.  She let out a cry of frustration in reply, then double-faulted to give back the break.  During the changeover, Wozniacki received a coaching consult from her father.  However, Makarova stepped up her game, and she seemed to find the balance between aggressive and percentage play.  Her backhands also showed improvement in the second set.  Off a great forehand, Makarova broke again, to go up 4*-2.

Both players alternated back and forth between strong play and nervy patches.  Makarova slapped her leg in anger, after missing a BHDTL.  At 0-30 on Makarova’s serve, Wozniacki had a half chance.  At this point though, Makarova was making regular forays to the net and she hit another fine volley to go 15-30.  She followed that up with a brave BH to go 30-all and then reached game point.  Wozniacki hit a cracking return winner to reach deuce.  After Makarova netted a FH, Wozniacki broke back to go 3*-4 in the second set.

Wozniacki then broke Makarova to go up 5*-4, when Makarova hit an errant volley and then followed that up with a BH error.  Following the established pattern of this match, Makarova broke back while Wozniacki was serving for the match, to level at 5-5.  She held and then earned herself three SPs after hitting a chip shot with her FH.  Makarova took her first SP chance to take the second set 7-5, after Wozniacki’s forehand sailed long.

At the start of the third set, Wozniacki received a coaching violation.  Whatever coaching she received seemed to work for her, as she broke Makarova at the start of the third set.  Makarova quickly earned 2 BPs when Wozniacki was serving at 2*-1.  She broke back with an emphatic forehand, to level the third set at 2-2.  Wozniacki’s trusted backhand was starting to falter — she asked the ball kid for an extra ball to practice her BH swing, in between points.

At 4*-4, Wozniacki hit another return-of-serve winner, to earn herself a BP on Makarova’s serve, which she took to go up 5*-4.  Wozniacki showed no nerves as she served out the match to take the third set and the match, 6-1 5-7 6-4.

This SF was a high-quality match, in which Wozniacki’s high-quality defense narrowly edged out Makarova’s ability to hit winners off her forehands and volleys (and then, eventually, her backhands too).

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