A Resurgent Caroline Wozniacki will Push Angelique Kerber

Caroline Wozniacki decimated an injury-ravaged Anastasija Sevastova 6-0, 6-2 to set up a last four encounter with Angelique Kerber. The two-time US Open finalist continues to impress and showed that she’s a serious contender in New York.

The Dane is on a roll and in defeating Sevastova managed to win her tenth set in a row. It’d be fair to say that nobody, apart from Wozniacki herself, expected her to be making a deep run in this year’s tournament.


2016: the year from hell

Prior to the US Open, 2016 had been one to forget for the former World #1. The Dane has had a difficult year to say the least, bombing out of the first round of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. If that wasn’t bad enough, her clay court season was ravaged by an ankle injury. The result was Wozniacki’s ranking plummeting from 17 in January to 74. However, she now finds herself in her first Grand Slam semifinal since 2011.

Wozniacki reloaded

The Dane’s start at Flushing Meadows was less than convincing. She had to battle her way past young American, Taylor Townsend, in three sets in round one. An edgy straight sets win over ninth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova followed, and since then Wozniacki has never looked back.

There’s no doubt that Wozniacki seems to be thriving in the absence of any pressure. In the past she’s had the monkey on her back of being the World #1 that’s never won a Slam. Now she’s displaying a different attitude and her tennis is benefiting as a consequence.

“Honestly I just have fun now. I love playing tennis. That’s why I play. At the end of the day I know my worth. I know how good I can play. I know that, with hard work, hopefully I can get back there[1].”

The Dane has always moved well around the court and will run down every ball, but her style seems to have changed. In New York she’s been on the front foot more and taken control of points.

She looked in commanding form when she disposed of big-hitting American Madison Keys. And despite Sevastova suffering an early ankle injury [2], Wozniacki didn’t give the Latvian a chance during their quarter-final. She made only five unforced errors in the whole match.


Kerber Awaits

The match with World #2 Angelique Kerber promises to be a fascinating one. Both players are hitting and feeling the ball extremely well, meaning long rallies and quality points are a distinct possibility.

Whilst the German will be the favourite going into the clash, it’d be foolish to write off Wozniacki. She’s only dropped one set on her way to the semis and her current game could cause anyone on the WTA Tour problems. The Dane is also not short of confidence heading into the match:

“I always believe in myself, no matter what my ranking. I’ve beaten pretty much everyone in the draw before. [3]

The match won’t purely come down to physicality. Kerber’s improved mental strength will present a significant challenge. The World #2 has shown throughout the tournament, and 2016, that she can get herself out of tight spots due to her mental toughness.

That said, the new and improved Wozniacki will be a tricky customer. Against Sevastova she was not only solid off the ground, but she served incredibly well. She had a first serve percentage of 80 and also looked convincing when coming into the net [4]. This is significant given that Kerber didn’t serve well during the first set against Roberta Vinci; she was broken three times.

Kerber has looked relatively untroubled on her way to the last four, but she faces a battle to reach the final. She’ll have to be at the top of her game to defeat a resurgent Wozniacki.

Wozniacki’s ranking will soar back into the 30s regardless of the outcome, but her current form suggests she has a real chance of reaching a third US Open final.