Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Underachiever vs. The Teacher's Pet

Lining up for the final event prior to the Year End Cup (the top 8 penalty shoot out of the WTA), a cursory look at the stats of the players would reveal some crucial imbalances that would serve as a decent barometer of prediction for the Kremlin Cup final.

On one hand was a player with 19 previous WTA titles to her name from 30 attempts, creating a win/loss ratio in finals of approximately 2:1.  This from a professional career spanning 7 years.  On the other side of the net was a player with only 3 titles across a 13 year career, but with a win/loss spread of 3 from 14 tries, or one won for every five entered.  The two players in question are Caroline Wozniacki, the former number one, currently going through a hazy patch as she struggles to stay in contention with the new pacemakers on tour, and Samantha Stosur, the 28-year-old whose career highlight came 12 months ago when she stunned Serena Williams to capture the US Open title, one of the three to her name.  That Stosur is 6 years Wozniacki's senior, but has captured only 12% of the tournament victories of Wozniacki reveals the underwhelming CV of the Australian while at the same time hinting at the potential of the young Dane and the belief that one day she will capture a Grand Slam and make a more indelible mark on the tennis map.

Better kit, better player.
Today's final saw top seeded Stosur line up against Wozniacki, after both had come through tricky three-setters in their semi-finals.  Stosur was particularly lucky to make the final, struggling in the first set against Ana Ivanovic before a thigh injury thwarted the Serbian's Kremlin campaign.  And it was Wozniacki who showed the greater promise early on in the final, playing to the weaknesses in Stosur's backhand, and forcing the Australian to become frustrated with her usually all-conquering forehand, spraying balls from the racquet with limited success.  Wozniacki was to break three times in the opening set, eventually taking it 62 in just over half an hour.

Stosur mustered a fightback in the second set.  With Wozniacki leading 43, she ran off five consecutive games to take the second set and bring up a lead in the third.  As is so often the case with Stosur, nerves, lack of confidence, lack of belief, and a thousand other mental excuses conspired to negate the break in the sixth game of the set, before Wozniacki's will drove a further, more decisive break in the 12th game of the set.  Eventually walking away with the Russian title 62 46 75, Wozniacki moves to 2 titles for 2012, salvaging something from her hiccup of a year.  Wozniacki has also now confirmed that she will travel to Sofia for the 2nd of the Year End events, where she will enter as top seed.

Elsewhere it was a very welcome return to winning ways after a year dogged with illness for Venus Williams, who captured her first title in over 24 months in Luxembourg.  Although moments like this are more frequent on the doubles tour for the American alongside Serena, they have been increasingly sporadic in singles events.  Entering Luxembourg to bolster her singles ranking, Williams was unseeded, but battled past Roberta Vinci in the quarter finals and played a blistering 3-set match against the also-returning Andrea Petkovic in the semis.  Sunday's final against Monica Nicolescu looked easy going for the American, with her recording a 62 63 victory in just over an hour.  Ranked just inside the top 50, Williams will next head to the Hopman Cup in Perth partnering John Isner in the opening event of 2013.

Kremlin Cup image from ABC.net.au / AFP / Alexander Nemenov
Venus image from AFP News

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