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Kanepi Rides Wave, Outlasts Wozniacki

Things seemed peachy as she built a 61 51 lead, but Kaia Kanepi's day was far from over.

Published June 02, 2012 12:00

Kanepi Rides Wave, Outlasts Wozniacki
Kaia Kanepi

PARIS, France - From power to finesse to one of the harshest momentum swings in recent memory, the match between Caroline Wozniacki and Kaia Kanepi had it all - but in the end there could only be one winner.

With huge serving and pinpoint accuracy on her similarly-huge groundstrokes, the No.23-seeded Kanepi steamrolled the No.9-seeded Wozniacki for most of the match, building a 61 51 lead; a game later she held two match points. But it was far from over, something Wozniacki sensed, and the former World No.1 won 14 points in a row and eventually took the second set in a tie-break.

"I was trying to win the match," Wozniacki said afterwards. "I was going to fight until the end. I didn't give up. I tried to do everything I could to win."

The beginning of the third set was close as well but Kanepi would pull away again, closing out a 61 67(3) 63 victory in two hours and 58 minutes.

"My tactics going into the match were to play longer points and try to spin to her forehand - I didn't want to take too much of a risk on the first two shots," Kanepi said. "In the second set I got tight, and at one point I just totally lost the feeling for the ball. But I'm happy I found it again at the end of the second set and then in the third set I found my game and I had it all under control."

Kanepi drew a heart in the clay after the match. "I love being there, and I enjoy being on that court," she said. "I just love playing in the French Open."

Kanepi reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal here back in 2008.

Wozniacki left disappointed, but with several more big tournaments on the horizon, tried to look forward. "It's disappointing to lose, it always is, and especially in a round like this. But it wasn't possible this time. I'm just going to go back and get ready for the next big tournaments that are coming up.

"Wimbledon, Olympics, US Open - plenty of big events to look forward to."

Next up for Kanepi will be Arantxa Rus, who pulled off a 76(5) 26 62 upset over No.25 seed Julia Goerges to make her very first Grand Slam second week.

Kanepi has beaten Rus in straight sets in both of their previous meetings.

No.2 seed Maria Sharapova didn't suffer anywhere near the same fate as Wozniacki, cruising past No.28 seed Peng Shuai, 62 61 - with 60 60 and 61 61 wins in her first two rounds Sharapova has lost a combined total of just five games through three rounds, the equal-fewest games she has lost through three rounds of a Slam in her career, matching this year's Australian Open.

"I came into today knowing I'm facing a pretty tough opponent who I've had trouble against in the past, and who has beaten me before," Sharapova said. "I tried to get her on the run today and really move her and stay aggressive. I served and returned well; that was very important, especially against her.

"The first few matches have been really good, and we're on to the next one."

And the former World No.1's focus doesn't stray one bit from the next one.

"The next round starts from 0-0. Whoever you're playing, you have to go and try and do the same thing. And there are a lot more rounds to go - it just gets tougher from this point. And you hope as the tournament goes on you are raising your level and getting better. You're going to be facing tougher opponents and three-setters, and you just have to be ready for those obstacles."

Sharapova leads Zakopalova in their head-to-head series, 2-1. Sharapova won the pair's only clay court meeting just a few weeks ago in Madrid.

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