Miami: And what shoulder, & what art. Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
Fault Caroline Wozniacki for many things – her “lack of weapons”, her “ugly” counterpunching game style, her vulture-like tactics, feeding on the carrion of other players’ errors rather than living and dying by her own sword.
Yet perhaps the biggest irony in Wozniacki’s game is the fierceness behind the appearance of complacency in her game.
If CWoz was intimidated by a more mature and experienced champion in Henin, she didn’t let it show for one second in her 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4 loss to the Belgian. It was a highly competitive affair, with Justine making almost 30 unforced errors to concede the first set in a tiebreak.
She needed some medical treatment in the second set, but cleaned up her groundies significantly to take the last two sets with just over 20 unforced errors, and what seemed like an endless flow of breathtaking shotmaking, capped off with a smile.
Justine 2.0, I facebook-like you. I really do.
While Justine was at her usual mental best – relentless, focused and constantly intense – what was more surprising was the ferocity and hunger of CWoz. She was as aggressive as the limits of her game allowed her to be. Make no mistake, CWoz may have the game of a vulture, but the girl’s a tigress underneath.
And wasn’t that something to behold all the same?
Q. Were you surprised how she kept points alive for so long when they seemed won by and you they were still going?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, it was incredible. She has such a good defense. First time I played against her. I watched some videos and everything, but a lot balls were coming back into the court.
And like I said, she’s really smart. She never hits two balls in the row with the same rhythm. She does a lot different things, especially with her backhand.
So that wasn’t easy for me to find a good position in the court. Sometimes I was too far; sometimes I was too much in a rush.
So finally, the third set I could find the good rhythm.
Q. You haven’t seen a moonball in a while, have you?
JUSTINE HENIN: No, it wasn’t that easy, but I came through.
So this marked the end of Caroline Wozniacki’s IW/Miami campaign.
In the past 3 weeks, she made a final and a quarterfinal – probably the best result of the WTA field. Yet what also became clear during these two tournaments is that CWoz is not yet a slam contender – something you’d expect the No 2 player in the world to be. And after the woes of Dinara Safina last year, one thing is for certain: tennis fandom hath no fury like a ranking system scorned.
On the men’s side of things, it’s hard not to notice the giant Federer-shaped hole in the men’s draw. But luckily for the tournament, despite the exit of a few top seeds too many, Rafa and Randy both held up their end of the bargain and progressed in straight sets.
The match between Rafa and Tsonga, in particular, showcased some heavy hitting as well as creative shotmaking.
Jo-Willy – Mr Pretty – had his chances. 8 of them in fact. He converted none while his forehand periodically AWOL throughout the match.
On the other hand, Rafa – Mr Pretty Please – was more efficient, converting 4 of his 5 break chances to seal the match, 63 62. But at any point during both sets, he could’ve easily given away a few breaks and let Jo back into the match.
Unlike a certain potato-head, Rafa didn’t. At the end of the day, that made all the difference.
Isn’t confidence a beautiful thing?