Wozniacki, Tsonga Come Back

2011 US Open
By Hiland Doolittle, September 6th, 2011
Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki

After losing the first set and trailing former US Open Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 4-1 in the second, top seed Caroline Wozniacki returned to her stellar defensive game and rallied from the depths of defeat.

Jo Willy Tsonga trailed American 8th seed Mardy Fish 2 sets to 1 and then took the legs out of Mardy Fish to post another five set victory. The American looked like he was on his way to the quarters when Tsonga unleashed a power game that will give anyone in the draw trouble.

Tsonga’s stirring play highlighted the day matches while Wozniacki’s memorable triumph took place in prime time. Somehow, the Dane’s top seed has been questioned by commentators like Chris Everett and Patrick McEnroe, who were on very vocal when Wozniacki was down.

But, she was not out. Wozniacki wins lots of matches. Her win total is the highest on the tour for each of the last two years. She will most likely win the most matches of any tour player again this year. Yet, Chris Everett in particular continues her vicious and unjustified assault on the Dane’s credentials.

If any match ever authenticated her seeding and ranking, her Sunday night performance was truly inspiring. The Dane does not sulk. She does not get down on herself. She experiments as she plays. Against Kuznetsova, a very formidable opponent, Caroline had newscasters eating their words and supporting Andy Roddick’s contention that the ESPN commentators were amateurish.

To dig herself out of the mess she was in, Caroline used the tools that have made her the world’s top player. She relied on her superb conditioning and her ability to dig every ball out while out-gutting the challenger.

Kuznetsova was crushing forehands and stepping into the court to return Wozniacki’s serve. After a tense first set, Kuznetsova had everything going her way. The key to Wozniacki’s 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-1 win was her ability to make the challenger hit extra shots. Svetlana committed 78 unforced errors. That is 52 more than the top seed.

After the match, Kuznetsova complimented Princess Caroline saying that she just could not close the Dane out. She knew Wozniacki was on the ropes but that is when her level of play elevated. Suddenly, Kuznetsova’s blasting returns and forehands were coming back. The Russian tried to hit harder and each time her ground strokes dove into the net or sailed wide.

Kuznetsova was impressed by Wozniacki’s conditioning. In spite of Everett’s and McEnroe’s disrespect, Wozniacki is 20-years old. Her quality of play has improved every year. She is fit, and willing to stay the course until she has finally worn down her opponents.

Caroline Wozniacki will not go away quickly or quietly.

The world’s number one will face another big hitter, in the quarterfinals. Andrea Petkovic cannot be taken lightly. The long German downed a game Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-4. Up 6-1,5-1, the outcome was never in question.

Petkovic has a bigger serve than Wozniacki, a bigger ground game but is she physically capable of staying on the court for more than 3 hours? If not, the Dane will triumph. If the German gets out of the gate fast and if her tender knee can take the pounding, she will win.

Wozniacki will not let that happen. She will make the German chase down every ball and will make far fewer unforced errors. In the end the Great Dane will do it again.

On Monday, Serbian former number one, Ana Ivanovic, played at a high level against odd-on favorite Serena Williams. Ivanovic showed a big heart and her professional demeanor made for an interesting match that fans thought might be a blowout. Serena won 6-3, 6-4 and did a good job overcoming heavy winds.

In the quarters, Serena will face 20-year old Russian heavyweight Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who downed Italy’s Francesca Schiavone 5-7,6-3,6-4. The 17th seed out-muscled the 7th seed but showed a complete lack of speed that Schiavone could not capitalize upon. The Russian’s power game had Schiavone scrambling but when she was not scrambling she moved the young Anastasia east-west with effectiveness.

Pavyluchenkova does not have a big enough game to overcome Serena. Look for Williams to break the challenger down and be off the court in about an hour.

In another interesting confrontation, Samantha Stosur will challenge second ranked Vera Zvonareva, who like Wozniacki has been much maligned. Whoever wins this battle has a clear path to the semis as either Flavia Pennetta and another German Angelique Kerber, the 91st ranked WYTA player will be the opponent.

Tsonga Prevails Over FIsh

Jo Wilfried Tsonga, the 11th seed, trailed 8th seed American Mardy Fish two sets to one when the determined Frenchman got a breath of air and replaced unforced errors with athletic moves and huge forehand returns. Two years ago Fish would have wilted under the windy, humid conditions. Thanks to his training regimen, Fish fought on.

However, when Tsonga got a late break in the fourth set, Fish seemed to lose his concentration and was clearly nursing a tender ankle. Jo Willy announced to his opponents that he stands ready to take on all comers. He has the power, the serve and the net game to be a tough, tough out.

Tsonga will, face Roger Federer in the quarters. The Swiss ended a long day of tennis by ousting Juan Monaco 6-1, 6-2, 6-0. Federer is the epitome of the skilled athlete. Of late, the third seed has had difficulty with the towering Frenchman. This quarterfinal will come down to Federer’s finesse against Tsonga’s power. It may also come down to a battle of fitness. Tsonga does not look like the best conditioned athlete but his five set record is now 7-2.

Novak Djokovic survived a first set challenge from Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-6 (14), 6-4,6-2 to rip the heart out of his challenger. Leaving no doubt who is the man to beat at Flushing Meadows, Novak never seemed to doubt his ability to win.

Djokovic will have the easiest opponent in the quarters. He will face countryman Janko Tipsarevic who downed Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5,6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-2. Djokovic will face his Davis Cup partner and has dominated him in the past.

The final Round Of Sixteen matches will be played today with Americans John Isner, Andy Roddick and Donald Young filling the stadium. Roddick, who has broken serve more than any other player in the draw, will face 5th seed David Ferrer. Young will face 4th seed Andy Murray and the imposing Isner will face Gilles Simon.

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