Serena Grinds Past Wozniacki & Into QFs
Published May 10, 2012 12:00
MADRID, Spain - Serena Williams got revenge on Caroline Wozniacki in Madrid for a loss in Miami, although it wasn't easy by any means. And her reward for the victory? A quarterfinal showdown with Maria Sharapova.
Just six weeks ago, Wozniacki was too solid for a somewhat erratic Williams in the quarterfinals of the Sony Ericsson Open, winning in straight sets, and that pattern continued in their third round match-up at the Mutua Madrid Open on Thursday as the No.6-seeded Wozniacki cruised to a 31-minute first set, 6-1, breaking the No.9-seeded Williams a surprising three out of four times.
But Williams never lost serve again - in fact she lost just six points in eight service games in the second and third sets - and an hour and 11 minutes later she moved smoothly through to the quarterfinals with a 16 63 62 victory.
"The first set was not me at all," Williams said. "I had a really slow start today. I don't know why, I was just a little sluggish and mentally I was fighting some demons maybe. I hadn't been playing like that and I wasn't playing like that.
"I was just like, 'I gotta do better than this.'"
Next up for Williams is the No.2-seeded Sharapova, who made to the quarters when Lucie Safarova had to withdraw before their match due to illness.
Williams leads Sharapova in their head-to-head series, 7-2, winning their last six meetings in a row. Williams also won their only clay court meeting, although it did go to three sets, and it was on green clay, in Charleston in 2008.
"She's been playing really well and has the upper hand going into tomorrow's match with so much momentum in winning in Stuttgart," Williams said. "I'm going out there with nothing to lose and that's always a good position to be in."
Another player into the quarterfinals early on Thursday was Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka, who continued her shock run through the draw with a 62 76(5) win over Ekaterina Makarova. Hradecka blasted 15 aces in the match, some of them coming at some very important times too - she faced double set point at 4-5, 15-40 in the second set but hit three aces in a row to get out of trouble. She also rallied from 4-0 down to win the tie-break, though only once ace there.
Fighting back from behind is nothing new for Hradecka - in the final round of qualies she came from 4-2 down in the third against Alla Kudryavtseva.
"When I was down in the tie-break, at 4-0, I hit a crosscourt backhand and she wasn't there, and after that I thought, 'Okay, just take it step by step now and we'll see,'" Hradecka said. "All of my matches have helped me this week. Beating Petra Kvitova in the last round was a big win for me too. I've gotten a lot of confidence and today I was just able to fight hard and make it through."
Hradecka is now through to her very first Premier-level quarterfinal.
Next for Hradecka is No.5 seed Sam Stosur, who won on Wednesday. Stosur beat Hradecka in straight sets in their only previous meeting, though the Czech did lead by a double break in the first set with two set points.