By Jane Voigt
August 31, 2014 — Take that Rory. Take that Maria. Take that New York City and get up and show me some respect.
Caroline Wozniacki (No. 10) showed the world that she can stand tall on the biggest tennis arena and defeat the former U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova, 64 26 62, and roar about it.
Wozniacki scurried left and right for balls, extending one rally to 27 shots. She also flipped off her normal, and natural by this point in her career, defensive style to smack winners that frustrated Sharapova and turned Wozniacki into a fan-favorite.
Wozniacki, who’s training to run this year’s New York Marathon, agreed her foot speed and endurance in rallies could be attributed to her workouts. “It definitely has helped me,” she told CBS on court. “I’m running it for charity, for underprivileged kids to start in sports called Team for Kids.”
Asked what she wanted to do to celebrate, Wozniacki said, “Have an ice bath, a massage, and I think some chocolate.”
The shot of the match for Caroline was her down-the-line backhand, which she tuned up throughout the three sets, keeping the best one for the final point of the match. It sailed past Sharapova and clipped the baseline.
Although Wozniacki began aggressively, going up a quick 3-0, Sharapova was never out of the rear-view mirror. In the second set, she was clearly dominant and in control. She found slivers of space to land balls in. Wozniacki’s counterpunching returned, which flummoxed her opponent only slightly as she continued to hammer winners. But Wozniacki began making ‘good’ mistakes, going for shots, like her down-the-line backhand, rather than pushing, which seemed to tire her on this hot and humid summer day.
At the start of the third, and with Sharapova’s record in 3-set matches this year — she’s won 17 of 24 — bets were she’d win. But Chairperson Cicak handed Sharapova a code violation. She took over ten minutes during the ‘heat rule’ break between sets one and two. Maria argued, but lost that one.
Whether the hand slapping affected her is hard to confirm. But there’s no doubt the break energized Wozniacki.
Fans witnessed precise foot speed, shot making, and grunting from the Dane … in combination, a new Caroline. She ran off five of the last six games.
“That’s amazing,” she said, breathless, happy and proud.
Grand Slams forbid coaching on court, which Wozniacki uses frequently on tour calling her dad/coach to her side. But this match, one of her best wins ever, was earned on her own strength and fortitude. It should imbue her with confidence.
“The season for me has been a little bit up and down,” Wozniacki told the press. “It’s so nice to kind of start feeling like I’m playing the way I want to.”
Sharapova and Wozniacki had played seven times prior to this afternoon, with Maria leading their head-to-head, 5-2. They had only played one other time at a major, though, which was the 2010 U.S. Open. It was a fourth-round win for Caroline, same as today.