Caroline Wozniacki enters Eastbourne semifinals with a hard-fought win over Ashleigh Barty
Caroline Wozniacki was happy to get out of trouble at the Nature Valley International on Thursday.
The world No. 2 had a tough and tricky match against Ashleigh Barty who pushed her to the limit but Wozniacki weathered the storm to come out winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 on Centre Court at Devonshire Park.
Three was the charm the Australian looked for on a surface she was more than comfortable playing. The buildup since winning Nottingham has been strong going 3-1 in her last four battles.
She was yet to drop a set in the English seaside town and would try to keep it that way for the upset.
Wozniacki put in a lot of hard work in her second match on grass taking care to keep Johanna Konta at bay on her own turf. The victory set up this third meeting where the world No.2 would have to be mindful of her skills and keep Barty from becoming too strong to stop.
They both flowed well holding serve on one another through four games with Wozniacki showing the most comfort on the court against Barty.
She set the bar each time with the Aussie finding it difficult returning Wozniacki’s shots at times but battled to stay with her.
It all changed after the Dane held serve in the ninth putting everything she had at Barty to falter. She reached three set points but saw her get deep into a rally to nail a winner to stay alive.
She had two more chances to force deuce but a double fault ended her hopes for a tiebreak. The world No.2 had the lead after 35 minutes getting the first break of the match despite having a low number of winners and unforced errors.
Barty’s were also minimal but enough that gave Wozniacki the lead she worked to be ahead of the grass court specialist.
She opened the door to be broken in the first game of the second set which began the pace for both players to outduel the other.
Wozniacki got back on serve just in time taking some pace away from Barty’s offense, but not enough to break it down completely. She held serve and followed it up with a break to take the lead.
The Dane called out her father and coach where they had a two-way conversation with Wozniacki frustrated on what to do to stop the problems faced in the second set.
While she got leveled through six, it was clear that both players were frustrated with the turn that their service games took so far.
Both won less than three on 12 attempts from the second serve and had a return in the basement with their second serve returns saving them.
A key hold arrived for the top seed in the seventh taking some improvement to her serve to lead 4-3 getting the lead back.
She delivered a big blow in the eighth breaking the Australian’s confidence with a double break point winner that let her serve for the match.
Missed forehands helped unravel her game giving Wozniacki three match points winning it on the second try that helped her avoid more troublesome moments in one hour and 19 minutes.
“It was a very difficult match,” said Wozniacki during her interview. “We know each other very well. She’s also a great girl and I knew it was going to be trick out there. The wind didn’t help, it was really swirling in there and made it difficult to feel where you were going to hit the ball.”
While she was over and done with the day on court, she would have to set up in her semifinal match taking on either Daria Kasatkina or Angelique Kerber on Friday. “Both are great players and both are great competitors,” she said. “It’s gonna be tricky either way.”
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