Volvo Car Open: Wozniacki claws out three-set win over Buzarnescu
Caroline Wozniacki was forced to earn a hard-fought victory at the Volvo Car Open on Thursday evening. The former 2011 champion went the distance against Mihaela Buzarnescu who dug in to make it a tough outing but won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 at Volvo Car Stadium at the Family Circle Tennis Center.
This was a third meeting between the two with the Dane comfortably winning both bouts. While it would be their first on the clay court, the advantage would sit well with the 28-year-old who smoothly took care of Laura Siegemund on Wednesday. The Romanian also had an easy second rounder against Lauren Davis, but knew that the difficulty rose whether or not she could use her strengths to the best of her ability.
She was quickly running behind as Wozniacki scored consecutive serves to love with a break which gifted her a comfortable 3-0 advantage. Buzarnescu got on the board with a strong hold, allowing the Dane a single point, but the deficit was once again at three soon enough.
The fifth seed avoided a break opportunity for the Romanian to contain the serve and although Buzarnescu worked hard after being forced to deuce, they battled hard for the AD point and it wasn't until her fourth opportunity to finally clinch the game - the match's longest.
For that trouble, she forced the Dane into deuce during the seventh game but getting anything against her serve was not on the cards. With the 5-2 hold, Wozniacki was on the hunt to close out the set but couldn't get it done, as Buzarnescu was intent on holding on for as long as she could. She recovered to 4-5 with a break in hand, hoping that recent success could help force a way into stretching the set further.
However she was denied that opportunity, as Wozniacki closed out the set in 52 minutes. Despite 21 unforced errors, Buzarnescu's game had improved in the late stages where she finished evenly with Wozniacki to remain an ongoing threat ahead of the second set.
Buzarnescu improves, much to Wozniacki's frustration
She proved precisely that after the restart, going to deuce before successfully breaking her opponent. Despite the Dane breaking back straight afterwards, the games were only getting more difficult and she was challenged to hold serve in the third - where it was the last she'd see for a while. Buzarnescu went on a three-game winning streak to take a 4-2 lead with a break in hand showing her eagerness to force a decider.
Wozniacki got back within one after seven but a hold for the 12th seed gave her a 5-3 stance to press the issue. Issues with her serving gifted Buzarnescu three set points and despite saving two with forced errors, the Romanian's challenged call clinched the set after 47 minutes.
It was time for a third and deciding set. With improvements from her end, the third set would be a virtual tossup to either one who came out of the gate well. It was the 28-year-old who got the break needed to dictate the pace. The triple-break was followed up by a tough fight for the hold of serve in the second.
A third for the double break was the moment when the Romanian took a chat with her coach to try and figure out how to fight back. She somehow scored a break as a response and attempt to consolidate it with a hold. Wozniacki delivered a challenge to force deuce where they went five long breaks until Buzarnescu found a way to keep the ball inside for the win bringing the margin for the fifth seed to one.
A break evened the score at three-all with Buzarnescu finding the marks to make it a tough one for the fifth seed. When it looked as if the Romanian would get her third straight, Wozniacki caught a break on errors from her opponent to take back the lead after seven.
A key serve to love in the eighth game gave the Dane the leverage needed to put a cap on the match with Buzarnescu under pressure. Serving to stay alive, the 12th seed erred to begin the ninth letting her frustrations come into play. It gave Wozniacki three match points with the final point ending on a wide return from the Romanian to complete a strenuous 2 hour and 36 minute battle.
"It was definitely a mental battle," Wozniacki told Andrew Krasny during her on-court interview. "I started off really well and thought I dictated the game and I felt the pressure coming from her and knew they were very close games. I kept winning the important points, played aggressively and it paid off."
The Dane will be hoping for more upcoming success as she faces Greek power player Maria Sakkari in Friday’s quarter-final match.