World No. 1. Caroline Wozniacki defeated rising German star Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-1 in Stuttgart earlier today. Petkovic has had an amazing start to the year including a 4th round victory over Wozniacki in Miami and had the advantage of a super supporting home crowd.
She used that advantage to the fullest early on when she blasted winners past Wozniacki to go up 4-1, 40-0 on Wozniacki’s serve. However, errors started creeping into the German’s otherwise flawless game and the world No. 1. dug deep mentally and physically. She reeled off four break points, aided by Petkovic missing a few drive volleys, and then she showed why she is the No. 1.
Against Petkovic, who was playing unbelievable tennis, probably the best of her life, she won five straight games to take the set. Petkovic was then broken and almost got bagelled in the second as Wozniacki started off with another five straight games and going up 15-30 on the German serve.
A bagel would have been too much and Petkovic deservedly got a game before Wozniacki served the out the match.
When you can play like Petkovic started out today and not even win a set against the world No. 1, it is becoming increasingly hard for her opponents to see just what they need to do to beat her. Petkovic’s formula (fire winners past her) only works if one can keep doing that for an entire match.
Petkovic could not, not many can.
Wozniacki deserves credit for not going away when she was overpowered and outplayed. It's similar to Rafael Nadal's past play against Federer, as he would not be bothered by games or even sets of brilliance from the Swiss Maestro. He knew Federer’s level had to dip at some point. When it did, Nadal would be there, waiting with his consistency, long rallies and punishing ground-strokes.
Wozniacki does the same when she meets an opponent on a roll. She refuses to be bothered by it, makes some small tactical changes—today she started going for more and dominating the rallies rather than relying on her defense—and forces her opponent's level to drop. If it doesn’t, fair enough. She was just too good.
But that is rarely the outcome these days.