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Wimbledon 2018: Makarova upsets Wozniacki in thrilling comeback

Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
Feature
120   //    05 Jul 2018, 01:06 IST

TENNIS-GBR-WIMBLEDON

Ekaterina Makarova had a dramatic path to a huge victory at the championships at Wimbledon on Wednesday evening. The Russian blew six match points in the seventh game of the final set but overcame bugs, drizzle and a tough fight from Caroline Wozniacki to upset the world number two 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 on Court One at the All England Tennis Club. Her experience with lob shots and net-front presence helped her reach the third round for the second time.

The world number two had the start she wanted to the Grand Slam enjoying the time on centre court to win in straight sets. The same couldn’t be said for her opponent who dealt with Petra Martic who forced her into a long first set before taking the second and dropping the third overall.

The Dane would try to gain her third grass court win over Makarova giving her eight wins in the series. It would be up to the left-hander to be reminded of her US Open win last season against Wozniacki and attempt to get another one.

She gained a two-game lead over the world number two showing her eagerness to take a commanding hold immediately. Wozniacki answered in the third with a break of the Russian to get dug in on her side of the court.

Makarova broke her spirits for a break chance as the forehand sped up too quickly for the Dane. She continued dealing with the pace Makarova put on the returns that forced deuce in the fifth. After five break chances, the Russian got it as Wozniacki was forcing herself into too many errors. Makarova’s three-game winning streak was becoming heavy for the world number two as she suffered in the sixth serving to stay alive in the set.

It was a battle uphill as she fought to deuce using some trick shots to beat Makarova with the forehand on the advantage point. That led to her own winning streak coming together to stay alive in the match and force Makarova to lose focus on closing out the set.

Wozniacki got within a game of leveling the score at five but a newfound defense from the Russian allowed her to hang on, get in front on the score and end the set to her favor after 42 minutes.

Aside from the extreme difficulty of her opponent, the other factor was the thousands of flying ants that surrounded the court making it a problem for the world number two. She called for big spray and whacked them away during the break.

When she came on to continue, the second seed took a 3-0 lead due to Makarova’s unforced errors. They increased as the games elapsed in favor of Wozniacki who was on a runaway with the set.

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Just as the bugs flew away, Makarova found a way to hold serve for the first time on set and end the Dane’s winning ways. It was only a short victory as Wozniacki served to put away Makarova with three set points ending things in 29 minutes with the third set in play.

The Dane served 13 of 15 for points on serve outscoring Makarova 27-14 who had a dismal second serve winning just once on four attempts. With the need for heavy improvements to pull off an upset, the 30-year-old would have to find a way to tighten up and make Wozniacki struggle.

They each broke one another to start the set followed by a hold from Makarova to get into a pace for herself. She earned a break in the fourth that gave her a 3-1 hold getting a little more measured with her tactics that paid off going forward. The fifth had the Russian scoring two net front points that beat the Dane for a 4-1 lead.

Just before Wozniacki served in the sixth, small droplets began to fall on the court leading the world number two to see if the match could be halted. When the court supervisor checked the grass for amounts of moisture, she signaled for the players to continue on.

It led to a 22-shot rally which Makarova won the opening point gaining a second on Wozniacki’s double fault. It was tied up on the Russian’s second error of the game but errors on both sides led them to deuce.

Makarova found the time to adjust her strategy and capture the advantage point on the second break giving her the chance to serve for the match. Every point to keep Wozniacki alive was high level of tension for the 27-year-old. She did move everywhere to stay on point with Makarova gaining the breakpoint to capture the second win.

The door was opening for the world number two as Makarova’s unforced errors were becoming too apparent giving another game away. Just when it looked as if she would have it done and dusted on serve in the eighth, Wozniacki found a way to make the rallies hard to handle.

A huge double fault by Makarova came at the worst time forcing deuce but scoring a winner down the line for a fourth match point attempt. She had it set up with a cross-court shot but the line drive for the win went into the net killing her assurance. The pressure was too great as Wozniacki got the advantage point on a second double fault making it a one-game margin in the decider.

The 27-year-old served a devastating blow to the Russian as she completed the comeback with a serve to love making it a five all standing with two more to play. Makarova had another chance to win a game cleanly only to lose out on every game point letting Wozniacki back in.

They went to deuce only once before a much-needed advantage point kept with Makarova to lead 6-5. The pressure showed on Wozniacki’s face as she erred three times handing Makarova match point opportunities. She managed to save one but couldn’t do it twice as a long rally came to a close on a perfect smash ending the two hour and nine-minute ordeal.

“Caroline is always a very tough opponent,” she said during her on-court interview. “We played so many times and only beat her a second time and its always tough to play against her but I’m so happy that I played my game and it doesn’t matter what the score was, I couldn’t win with a lot of match points but I kept fighting, keep playing my aggressive game and it finally worked.”

With so much effort to get the biggest win of the season, she will go into Friday facing Lucie Safarova in the third round. 


How far do you think will Ekaterina Makarova go in Wimbledon 2018? Tell us in the comments below!

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Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
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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