Women’s Semifinal #1: The Rookie vs the Veteran

Spread the love

Semifinal #1  – Elise Mertens vs Caroline Wozniacki

Elise Mertens

Elise Mertens, a 22-year-old Belgian player, is probably the most surprising of the four semifinalists. Ranked #37 on the WTA tour when she entered the Australian Open, her ranking will rise into the Top 20 with this result. Mertens is the youngest and lowest-ranked of the semifinal players.

In January 2017, Mertens won her first WTA title, in Hobart. The Belgian entered the top 100 for the first time. Mertens spent most of the year playing qualifying matches and was unsuccessful in reaching the main draw in both Indian Wells and Miami.

Mertens played the Hopman Cup to start off her 2018 season. The Belgian then travelled to Hobart, where she successfully defended her singles title and also won the doubles title.

On her way to these semifinals in Melbourne, Mertens defeated Australia’s Daria Gavrilova, ranked #25. In the quarterfinals Mertens defeated one of the pre-tournament favourites, the #4 ranked player Elina Svitolina. Mertens played an offensive based game and kept unforced errors to a minimum. Svitolina appeared to have no response to the more aggressive style of play and made error after error.
Embed from Getty Images

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki, from Denmark, is currently ranked #2 in the WTA rankings. Six years ago Wozniacki held the #1 ranking for over 60 weeks, winning several tournaments on the WTA tour. Throughout her reign as World #1, Wozniacki played a defensive game. Known for running down and returning every ball, the Danish  player frustrated the power hitters. Wozniacki’s defensive style, however, came up short at the major tournaments and she became one in a pretty short list of players who have held the top ranking without owning a Major title. As more powerful players with more weapons ascended the rankings, Wozniacki found herself dropping out of contention and falling quickly in the rankings.

Over the past couple of seasons Wozniacki has worked hard on adding offense to her game. The former top player has added more pace to her serve  and has learned to be more aggressive during points. These adjustments have helped Wozniacki climb back up the rankings and resulted in her winning the biggest title of her career at the end of 2017, the WTA Finals title.

Wozniacki’s run to the semifinals almost didn’t happen, as she was down match points in her second round match against Jana Fett. After fighting back to win the match, Wozniacki has moved confidently through her portion of the draw. It is interesting to note that 2016 Australian Open Champion Angelique Kerber also fought off match points in an early round.

Caroline Wozniacki is definitely the favourite to win this semifinal. Being the more seasoned competitor should be to Wozniacki’s advantage, her win at the WTA finals should give her confidence and her desire to complete her career with a major title should see her through to a win.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images