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Wozniacki wins in three sets against Kerber to advance at Nature Valley International final

Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
Feature
42   //    30 Jun 2018, 02:44 IST

Nature Valley International - Day Eight

Caroline Wozniacki went all in to get back to the final of the Nature Valley International on Friday. The top seed was down match point in the second set against Angelique Kerber to force a decider and win it on her terms with a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 score on Centre Court at Devonshire Park. It was the second straight time Wozniacki made it to the end at Eastbourne in what was the most challenging matchup for her this week.

The two rekindled their long series battle at Doha playing three long sets before it went to the Dane getting her sixth win against the German. Kerber has just one title this year which is in no case close to Wozniacki’s Australian Open victory. Despite not being a power player so far, she would try to keep her career lead in the meetings and gain a ninth that would take her to another shot at getting a second title.

The match opened with Wozniacki holding her own in the first before Kerber got into the groove. They went clean through four games before the German broke Wozniacki in the fifth. In a blink of an eye, she gained a 5-2 lead on the top seed serving easily for the set. Kerber performed the seventh flawlessly scoring three set points to blank the Dane in 29 minutes. Despite serving at 60 percent, she kept the errors low recording three in the set winning 11 of 12 on first serve points.

The good work done in the first didn’t flow into the second right away as Wozniacki built up a lead for herself as she intended to go the distance in this one. The world number two opened up to three games before the German started to fight back.

After seven games elapsed, Kerber was within reach serving in the eighth to level the score. She did it holding Wozniacki to a point to even up the score at four all. She hunted for the break in the ninth in an attempt to refocus on a straight sets projection.

Wozniacki wouldn’t let her get another break to set it up holding firm to threaten a third set into being played out. Kerber answered with a big service hold that sent them to extra frames putting the Dane on the hot seat first. Her aggressive style of tennis was there to force Kerber into a tight situation on deuce but hit the ball long twice to give Kerber another try at the match.

Every point was key for both players as they let very little get away with one another. Kerber had an error at 30 all handing Wozniacki a break point but got to deuce on an error. The German laid down a cross-court winner before going for an ace on match point that was called out. Hawkeye showed that it caught the line but was replayed in a long 24 shot rally lasting for the Dane to force things back to deuce. She set herself up for another break point that then set up a seven-point shootout to determine the path of the match.

The top seed made her intentions clear finding a way to overtake Kerber after four points had been drawn keeping her back enough to reach set point. The German gained two more but couldn’t close the gap to keep the set alive. They took 68 minutes to finish the set where it saw both players playing even strengths with Wozniacki carrying enough aggression in her offense to set up the deciding set.

Kerber opened up the scoring followed by Wozniacki who showed a lot of focus going on. After a tie through four, the 27-year-old held serve and followed it up with a break to lead 4-2. Kerber got back within one denying Wozniacki a double break at a point where the match was coming closer to its conclusion with no clear winner.

She leveled again with Wozniacki but the top seed was on a mission to finish the match on her terms breaking Kerber in the ninth to serve for it. Kerber used a redirecting tactic to get ahead in the game but saw her opponent rally back to deuce. After 2 hours and 16 minutes, the Dane reached match point to score a final winner in the corner to get into another WTA final.

“It was tough,” Wozniacki said during her on-court interview. “Being down match point got me a little light headed both times but somehow managed to get through and we always have tough matches and against Angie wasn’t going to be an easy one today.”

She’ll go into Saturday playing Aryna Sabalenka in the final where she could win another title in the English seaside town. “She plays aggressive tennis,” she said. “She tries to get into attack at the start so I have to be ready.”


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