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Madrid Masters: Wozniacki goes the distance to beat Barty

Rudy Martinez
184   //    07 May 2018, 23:56 IST

Mutua Madrid Open - Day Two
Mutua Madrid Open - Day Two

Caroline Wozniacki found opportunities to reel in during tough times that advanced her at the Mutua Madrid Open Monday. After a rush from Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, the world number two counter-attacked in the deciding set to win 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 on Arantxa Sanchez Court at La Caja Magica.

The two met last season in Cincinnati where the Dane held firm against Barty in what her journey would be to become number one. Her win on Sunday versus Daria Gavrilova leaves her with plenty of force to continue her dominating form on clay. Barty did work against Sara Errani that resulted in her straight sets win allowing five games total. While her history against the world number two was brief, the Australian needed to find opportunities to counteract the cross-court offence by the 27-year-old.

Wozniacki opened with a break of Barty and almost saw the same thing happen to herself. She somehow came back from 0-40 to force deuce and avoided losing her opening serve. In response, she picked up the pace and made it 3-0 for the double break.

The set remained in the hands of the world number two who looked comfortable on court until the fifth game. A distraction got the best of her once again that led to the Aussie holding off Wozniacki for the first time.

She earned a second straight off the Dane before she took a commanding 5-2 lead on the break setting up her chance to dictate the set. On serve in the eighth, Wozniacki got three set points before a long ball error from the Aussie brought a quick close to the set in 35 minutes. While the world number two didn’t have many winners, the ability to rattle Barty into committing 18 of her own was the ultimate factor while holding serve at 77 percent.

Barty knew what had to be done in order to soften her opponent’s offensive strengths and did so with a service hold that set the pace. Wozniacki trailed prior to her service game where she quickly got the score levelled. Barty remained firm but kept her eyes on capturing a break at some point in the set. After Wozniacki changed things up for herself, Barty denied her any chance of widening the margin. She nailed down a break in the eighth before consolidating it with a hold of serve in the ninth.

The pressure was on the second seed to push for a second chance at maintaining her straight sets run but the Australian had other ideas. Barty put all her energy into breaking Wozniacki in the tenth that secured her first chance to pull off an upset after completing 41 minutes. She landed 81 percent of shots on the first serve that did enough to carry her struggling second serve.

Barty opened the third set with another big hold going with her own pace that frustrated the Dane who wanted to hit hard and dictate. When she got on serve, the second seed did what she wanted, earning the win after Barty led each game. The Australian got the first break in the sixth giving her a two-game lead over Wozniacki, who was in real trouble facing tough opposition.

She somehow retrieved the break from Barty getting very lucky on a net shot that got over to fall in her court. A short fight on deuce handed Wozniacki life back in her game.

The margin was closed by the second seed who worked through the breaks on deuce making good on every chance that Barty blew for herself. The Aussie got back to serve in the ninth hoping to erase the mistakes from her previous game.

They followed her opening the chance for Wozniacki to dig in and blast away on the returns that gave her a chance to win the match on serve. The forehand of the Dane’s was too much for Barty to handle, thus giving the second seed three match points. A ball landing wide brought an end to the match in two hours and five minutes.

Wozniacki had average numbers in her victory, however, she has now moved into the third round facing Kiki Bertens in the round of 16.

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Rudy Martinez
A writer with eight years experience in sportswriting. He specializes in the National Hockey League, WTA Tennis and both summer and winter Olympic sports.
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