Caroline Wozniacki eked out a tough victory over the giant-killing Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the third round of the 2018 BNP Paribas Open as the world number two edged closer towards another deep run here in Indian Wells. It wasn’t the Dane’s best performance but what was impressive is her ability to come up with a decent showing to claim the win, setting up a meeting with either Sloane Stephens or Daria Kasatkina in the fourth round.
Wozniacki comes back from the brink, steals the opening set
It was a poor start to the match for Wozniacki as she opened the match with several unforced errors, gifting Sasnovich with the break. The Belarusian’s backhand has always been the biggest weapon of her game, and she was utilizing it to her advantage, helping her to consolidate the break for a 2-0 lead. Wozniacki’s sluggish start continued to haunt her as Sasnovich continued to roll through the opening stages, jumping out to a double-break advantage after just nine minutes of play.
Wozniacki managed to get on board but was still unable to gain any rhythm on her serve as Sasnovich stayed solid at the baseline, with her sole service hold proving to be the only difference thus far. However, the Belarusian started to struggle on her serve, throwing in untimely double-faults on many occasions especially when she is going for second serves as fast as 99 mph. It was a risk poorly taken by Sasnovich as Wozniacki made full use of her chances, leveling the score at 4-4 within a blink of an eye.
The world number 49 had the golden opportunity to regain her lead in the ninth game, but unforced errors once again derailed her path as Wozniacki grabbed the confidence-boosting service hold. Serving to stay in the set, Sasnovich once again produced a double-fault, before a backhand sent long allowed Wozniacki to take the first set 6-4 despite not being at her best.
Sasnovich produces the perfect reply, dominates second set
Sasnovich quickly recovered from the loss of the commanding 4-1 lead in the first set and rebounded perfectly in the second set as the Belarusian made the first breakthrough in the opening game although a break does not necessarily mean much in this encounter.
A lovely forehand volley winner then helped Sasnovich fend off the tough resistance from Wozniacki, who missed out on a break point opportunity as the Belarusian had her first hold of serve since her opening service game.
Using her world-class backhand as a weapon, Sasnovich tightly held onto her lead and most notably survived a marathon sixth game which saw Wozniacki earn two break points once more. The Dane was wasteful on her chances, and this gave Sasnovich the confidence as a perfect lob winner sealed her another break, alongside the chance to serve out the second set at 5-2 up.
This time, Sasnovich held her nerves and was being the clear aggressor during the rallies, converting on her fourth set point to send the match to the distance. In what was the most important statistic of the set, Wozniacki was 0/6 for break points while Sasnovich went 2/4, showing that the Belarusian was more efficient on the crucial points.
Wozniacki regroups, takes the marathon victory
Sasnovich continued to ride on her momentum and had the perfect start to the deciding set, a break in the opening game after several forehands were just too good for the Dane. However, the world number 49 started to struggle on her second serves and Wozniacki took full advantage, powering herself to a strong 4-2 lead.
Yet another momentum shift came into place, this time with Sasnovich breaking straight back to return level on serve although it was just a monumental joy for the Belarusian as Wozniacki had the last laugh, earning the chance to serve out the match ultimately.
Fending off a break point, the world number two finally sealed the win after two hours and 17-minutes of play, heaving a sigh of relief after surviving the break fest.