Wozniacki waits it out

Sharapova sets pace, but patient top seed prevails

September 07, 2010|By Diane Pucin, Tribune Newspapers

NEW YORK — Maria Sharapova was the creator Monday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Sharapova was the one who came to the net more often, and who tried to craft openings by using drop shots, one of which even got her opponent down on the ground, on her back looking up and watching a Sharapova lob sail over her head.

But that lob was just long, and Caroline Wozniacki won the point. Even if the 14th-seeded Sharapova, a three-time Grand Slam winner, was the aggressor in their U.S. Open fourth-round match, it was the top-seeded Wozniacki who will play in the quarterfinals after a 6-3, 6-4 victory on Labor Day.

Though the score makes the match seem unremarkable, the pair played for nearly two hours. Several rallies lasted more than 20 strokes. One lasted 29.

The score of third-seeded Novak Djokovic's straight-set victory over 19th-seeded Mardy Fish — 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 — also seemed unremarkable, but so was the play of Fish, who was slow to reach Djokovic's shots and had only 13 winners to 25 unforced errors.

It was easy for Fish to sum up what happened. "He played great," Fish said. "He kicked my butt."

Also advancing was fifth-seeded Robin Soderling, who beat Albert Montanes 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, and 17th-seeded Gael Monfils, who beat Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6, 7-5. Monfils will play Djokovic in the quarterfinals, and Soderling will meet second-seeded Roger Federer, who moved into his 26th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal with a ruthless 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over 13th-seeded Jurgen Melzer.

Fish's loss means the only Americans left in the singles draw are 18th-seeded Sam Querrey and third-seeded Venus Williams. Both play Tuesday.

Wozniacki's next match will be against 45th-ranked Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia. The unseeded 21-year-old upset 11th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 7-6 (4). At 5-foot-3, Cibulkova is 7 inches shorter than Wozniacki, but Wozniacki doesn't consider herself at an advantage.

"Everyone has their strengths, their weaknesses," she said. "Someone is short, someone is tall. It doesn't matter when you're on the court."

Stat of the day: Sharapova's 36 unforced errors. It was a sign she was forcing the action but also a sign she sometimes forced it too much.

Quote of the day: Wozniacki, who was asked if her Stella McCartney-designed dress was too short: "I think it's nice. I definitely am sure I'll get a lot of male fans now."

dpucin@tribune.com

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