BNP Paribas Open Final Preview

On the Baseline Tennis News
March 19, 2011

Indian Wells, CA —The so-called “Fifth Slam” at Indian Wells has lived up to its reputation once again. You just can’t beat the serenity of snow-capped mountains and palm trees as a backdrop for one of the best tournaments of the year. And the tennis didn’t disappoint either. Caroline Wozniacki is now a 2-time finalist here at the BNP Paribas Open, and is favored to win the title over Marion Bartoli. This would be Wozniacki’s second title of 2011 and her 14th career title. The last player to reach back-to-back finals at Indian Wells was Ana Ivanovic in 2008 (won the title), and 2009 (runner-up).

Wozniacki leads the head to head series against Marion Bartoli 4-2, but has never faced her in a final. Bartoli also got a bit of a lucky break when Kim Clijsters (who was favored to go deep here in IW) retired in their fourth round match (in the second set) due to a shoulder injury. Had Clijsters been healthy, there is a good chance Bartoli would have taken an early flight to Miami.

For those of you keeping tabs on Caroline’s No. 1 status, here’s the deal: By reaching semifinals at Indian Wells, she will hold onto the No.1 ranking through the Sony Ericsson Open, extending her time at the top to 25 weeks. Wozniacki has a 15-5 W-L record as No. 1.

Wozniacki’s results for 2011 have been impressive. She has now reached the final in the last three tournaments (winner, Dubai, Runner-up, Doha). If you look back to Wozniacki’s last 11 tournaments, she has reached eight finals, and won five titles. In a word: Consistent.

Not only does Wozniacki know how to win, she knows exactly what it takes for her opponents to force her into the loser’s circle.

“If a player has to beat me, either she has to overpower me, or she needs to stand there for hours and hours,” said Wozniacki in a recent press conference. Bartoli has been serving very well (as seen by her 10 aces in her semifinal against Wickmayer), and has the ability to dig deep, and stay focused.

“Marion is a player who is also trying to play aggressively, taking the ball early,” said Wozniacki. She’s not going to give me a lot of free points.”

Wozniacki’s Road to the Final at Indian Wells:
R128: bye
R64: def. [WC] Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-2
R32: def. No. 29 Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-1 6-3
R16: def. No. 24 Alisa Kleybanova 2-6 6-3 6-1
QF: def. No. 9 Victoria Azarenka 3-0 ret
SF: def. No. 18 Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-2
Total games: 60
W/L: 41-19

Currently ranked at No, 17, Marion Bartoli is playing in her first final at Indian Wells. After battling flu-like symptoms in her match against Ana Ivanovic, she was still feeling a bit weak. After her semifinal win over Yanina Wickmayer, Bartoli admitted that she still didn’t feel 100% and felt like she would be the underdog going into the final against Wozniacki. But she doesn’t have a problem with it. “I will have absolutely nothing to lose.” Despite her illness, Bartoli is simply playing inspired tennis right now.

Bartoli’s strategy on getting past Wozniacki on Sunday: Maintaining a high percentage of first serves.

Bartoli’s Road to the Final at Indian Wells:
R128: bye
R64: def. Q/No. 65 Monica Niculescu 2-6, 6-3, 6-2
R32: def. No. 23 Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-2
R16: def. No. 2 Kim Clijsters 3-6, 3-1 ret.
QF: def. No. 21Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 7-6(4)
SF: def. No. 25 Yanina Wickmayer 6-1, 6-3
Total games: 79
Won/lost: 45-34

Prediction: Wozniacki d. Bartoli 6-4, 6-3

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