Indian Wells: Final Preview
Published March 19, 2011 04:20
BNP Paribas Open, Sunday
 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN #1) vs.  Marion Bartoli (FRA #17)
Head-to-Head: Wozniacki leads 4-2
Consider this for a well-blow-me-down statistic: In her five matches to reach this final, Bartoli has delivered 19 aces - including 10 in her semifinal against Yanina Wickmayer on Friday - while Wozniacki has served none. But as ever, consistency's been the name of the game for the 20-year-old Dane, who has put in 74% of first serves across the tournament, to Bartoli's 57%.
The Frenchwoman is a smart cookie (really: her IQ is 175) and she admits she'll need to lift that department of her game today. Indeed, in Doha a few weeks ago, Wozniacki punished Bartoli's second serves and had her constantly on the run, resulting in a 61 61 scoreline. And Wozniacki issued another warning by returning particularly well against Maria Sharapova in their semi - so well that she restricted the Russian to a single game on serve.
Ultimately, though, this match will be won off the ground. Both can rally all day if need be - in which case, will it matter that Bartoli has spent more than three hours extra on court to get here? Judging by her own surprisingly easy dismantling of Wickmayer, maybe not. She can also draw confidence from the fact she won the pair's two meetings prior to the Doha rout. Still, her impressive tactical mind will need to be at its sharpest to counter Wozniacki's relentless power game.
Bartoli ended a run of seven semifinal losses to reach her first final since Stanford almost two years ago, where she won her fifth and biggest title to date. She is 5-5 in WTA finals and 2-5 against the No.1 ranked player, having beaten Justine Henin at Wimbledon in 2007 and the Australian Open in 2009. Incredibly, should she triumph today she'll be just the third woman aged 26 or older to win in the desert, after Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf.
For her part, Wozniacki is gunning for title No.14 from her 23rd final - runner-up here 12 months ago, is it an omen that she has gone one round better each year since making her event debut in 2007? Whoever prevails will be the eighth different champion at Indian Wells in eight years. Regardless of the result, both have made important ranking statements: Wozniacki is already assured of holding on to the No.1 ranking past the end of Miami, while Bartoli has booked her return to the Top 10 for the first time since June 2008.