By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Tuesday, August 29, 2023
NEW YORK—Tennis is a global game, but still a small world.
Walking around Manhattan over the weekend, Caroline Wozniacki ran into Petra Kvitova on the street.
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On Wednesday, the Grand Slam champions will face off again in the second round of the US Open.
Contesting her first Grand Slam since the 2020 Australian Open, Wozniacki broke out a new blue adidas cat suit and familiar prowling counter-punching style stopping Tatiana Prozorova 6-3, 6-2 on Louis Armstrong Stadium Court Monday night.
That victory vaults Wozniacki into her 15th career showdown with Petra Kvitova.
The 11th-ranked Kvitova cranked 34 winners defeating Cristina Bucsa 6-1, 7-6(5). Kvitova owns an 8-6 career record against Wozniacki.
“Very honored to play a night session, playing on a big court. Again, just happy to be through the first round, get that out of the way,” Wozniacki said. “Obviously it only gets tougher from here. I’m playing Petra next, someone I know very well and have played many, many times.
“I kind of know what to expect. I got to play better next match to beat her, but so does she. So I think it’s going to be an exciting one. I think it’s going to be a good match out there.”
The Grand Slam champions bumped into each other in the city without knowing they were on a collision course in the US Open draw.
“I talked to Petra yesterday, the day before. I bumped into her in the city,” Wozniacki said. “I actually didn’t know that I had the potential of playing her in the second round. I don’t think she knew it either. We were talking yesterday in the locker room. She was like, When are you playing?
“We talked about each other’s opponents. She was like, It’s so cool to see you back. Just kind of talking about family. I think she didn’t have any idea that she was potentially playing against me either. I think we’ve been around for a long time.
“We’ve played each other many times. I think at the end of the day we’re just out there to do our best and compete. Hopefully it’s going to be a great match.”
Champions with disparate styles will meet for the first time since the 2018 WTA Finals when Wozniacki squeezed out a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 victory.
The left-handed Kvitova is at her best exterminating points with first-strike blasts. The right-handed Wozniacki is most effective at extending points and inducing errors from opponents.
Though Kvitova has won seven of their 11 hard-court encounters, Wozniacki has been far superior in Flushing Meadows reaching US Open finals in 2009 and 2014. Wozniacki’s 39-13 career US Open record is her most wins at any major. In contrast, Kvitova’s best US Open performance is a pair of quarterfinal finishes;she’s reached semifinals or better at the other three Grand Slam tournaments.
The advantage Kvitova has is if she’s landing her fast, flat drives she can command the center of the court and dictate player. Wozniacki, still one of the best hard-court movers even as a 33-year-old mother of two, will try to drag Kvitova into the corners and strike on the run.
The former Australian Open champion knows she must lift her level to contend with Kvitova, who won the Miami Open title in April.
The question is: Can Wozniacki summon that level in just the third tournament of her comeback?
“Obviously there’s pluses and minuses. But, yeah, I know exactly what I need to do. I know where my game needs to be at to beat Petra,” Wozniacki said. “There’s definitely a calmness to knowing that. At the same time I’m playing someone who obviously plays very well.
“Could I have had maybe a little bit of an easier draw? Probably. But at the same time I’m also a wild card. We could have met in the first round. At the same time I’m just out there to compete. I know myself, my competitiveness. I know if I’m playing my best tennis, then I believe that I can beat anyone in the draw.
“We’ll see. It could be anything out there in the next match, but I hope it’s going to be a great match. That’s why I’m here. I want to compete. I want to play against the best players. Again, I’m just thrilled that I got to play on a big court today. Let’s see where we’re going to go in the next round. Hopefully another big one.”
Photo credit: Robert Prange/Getty
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