Despite not playing up to the level which saw her defeat world number three Petra Kvitova in the previous round, Venus Williams battled past Aleksandra Wozniak 4-6,6-4,7-6 to move on to the fourth round at the Sony Ericsson Open.
Coming into the third round, these two had a great deal in common as wildcard entries. Wozniak is on the rebuilding path from a wrist and shoulder injury the last two years while Williams missed most of 2011 due to Sjogren’s disease.
Wozniak broke to open the match. Leading 2-1, the Canadian salvaged six break points to keep the lead. Although Williams did break later for 3 all, she again surrendered her serve which allowed Wozniak to eventually grab the first set.
After being down a break again early in the second set, Williams leveled things at 2 all. A sleuth of breaks followed with Williams ultimately getting the last one to send the match into a third set.
Subsequent to consolidating for 4-2, Wozniak had a 15-40 advantage. If the Canadian had converted, she would have had a double break edge. Williams kept close and the next game squared the set at 4 all.
However, Williams went down again 4-5 but with help from her rival saved match point. Fighting through an error prone game and match, Williams arrived at 6-5. In the end, the winner was settled by a tiebreaker and in spite of her struggles, Williams pulled through with a victory after two hours and fifty minutes.
It was the first meeting for these two competitors and a great disappointment for Wozniak who is working her way back up the ranking after plummeting from 35 to 126 at the end of 2011. For the second time this year, she failed to close out a well known opponent, before Agnieszka Radwanska in Dubai.
Serving for the match, Wozniak was candid in saying that “nerves played a part” and “not having the right strategy at the right time”. After the match, Wozniak took comfort in her father citing that the important thing is that she’s “healthy and on the right track”.
Williams had a sluggish start and had a conspicuous wrap on her right calf. Consequently, MiamiTennnisNews.com wanted how Williams judged her energy level at the start of the match, Wozniak’s play and the state of her calf.
Williams answered “I didn’t feel that great and I was kind of starting to panic. I needed to calm down and try to figure out a strategy that was going to work a little better than what I was doing at that moment. . . She was playing well. She came to play. . . My calf was fine, actually. The tape worked quite well”.
The seven time major champion was one point from departing in Miami, yet failed to realized it. Williams expressed “she had match point? Oh, no. Thank God I’m oblivious to the score a lot of times. Oh, my god, that’s not good news. . . I just kept coming back. I tried not to let anything discourage me today. I kept thinking about how I really need this match and I need these points. I keep thinking about the Olympics and I need my points.”
For Williams, the desire to represent her country at the Olympics keeps her motivated these days, “I don’t want to get up or I want to do something different, I want to make an error, then I think about the Olympics and how if I don’t do the right thing I might not be there”.
Why this burning hunger to make the Olympic team, when Williams has been there several times before “It’s just the ultimate level in sports. It’s about participating. It’s about having that experience. It’s about having the honor to be good enough to be there. . . the pinnacle of sports”.
In the next round, Williams clashes with Ana Ivanovic who defeated Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 7-6. Williams has a 7-1 record against Ivanovic.