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News & Photos / Articles / Will-to-win sees Wozniacki past Wozniak

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Extreme defense

Caroline Wozniacki needed to call on all her legendary determination to squeeze past near-namesake Aleksandra Wozniak 6-3, 7-6 and seal a place in the third round, where she will meet no.28 seed Daniela Hantuchova.

In a ding-dong battle lasting just under two hours, Canadian Wozniak pushed the Danish world no.1 hard and will be bitterly disappointed not to have taken her illustrious opponent to at least a third set. Wozniacki meanwhile gave little better than she got today but still ground out a victory - as is her wont - over the hard-hitting 23-year-old from Quebec.

The remarkable thing about the Dane's game today was quite how unremarkable it was. Those not blessed with the greatest technique sometimes devise a winning strategy based around keeping the ball in play and waiting for their opponent to make an error. A frustrating strategy but one which the top seed has often employed to perfection, making Wozniak's job today a thankless task.

And so it turned out. The world no.162 made a hesitant start, hitting the ball long and wide too often in the first set and gifting her 20-year-old opponent to clinch the first set 6-3. Thereafter, there was precious little to choose between the Danish and the Canadian "Wozzes" thereafter. Both are fine examples of the current generation women's player - tall, athletic and blessed with a solid service but lacking in the variety and all-round game which predecessors such as Justine Henin, Steffi Graf and Chris Evert parlayed into multiple successes here at the French. Aleksandra settled in the second set, reduced her unforced errors to a minimum and deservedly found herself with three set points at 6-3 in the tie-break, when a Wozniacki desperation lob was called just out.

The Dane had been conducting a running argument with the chair umpire throughout the match, and now she stopped play to repeatedly question the decision. Wozniak had to wait for the Dane to return to the baseline and face the first of those three set points, but it transpired that the Canadian was the more unsettled by the incident. Two weak services followed, and then on the final set point she had two chances to put short balls away, only to hit them to Wozniacki's preferred backhand. The Dane then found herself with a match point but was forced onto the back foot and could only hoist up a weak lob which barely cleared the net, leaving Aleksandra with the whole court to hit her smash. A weak overhead, straight back at a surprised Wozniacki and again on her backhand opened up the court and the top seed needed no second bidding to close out the match.

For Aleksandra, it was a case of what might have been - as has been for over two years now as her career continues on its downwards spiral after she peaked at no.21 in the world after making the fourth round here in 2009. Caro meanwhile marches on - rarely convincing but always tough to beat. She has yet to drop so much as a set to Hantuchova whom she will face in the third round later this week, but with Svetlana Kuznetsova and then either Julia Goerges or Sam Stosur likely lying in wait, she will have to find a plan B if she is to break her Grand Slam duck on a surface which does not suit her solid yet perhaps overly conservative game.

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