The Pick, Stuttgart, April 25: Halep vs Wozniacki, is Caro finally ready to grind again?



Maria Sharapova went down early against Angie Kerber, Petra Kvitova lost to Madison Brengle and all of a sudden, Caroline Wozniacki had hope, not that she would win instantaneously, but everyone was vulnerable and if she was willing to grind it, she might be able to exhaust anyone. She looked terrific to beat Carlos Suarez on Friday, which was not easy at all considering that the Spaniard loves clay and she has admittedly that the dirt has given her the most trouble.

But at least this week, she has not been emotionally bankrupt and feeling spry. However while all the players out there were vulnerable, one did not: Simona Halep, who she has to face in the semifinal. The Romanian has been almost untouchable since February, winning just about everything, and nearly besting the great Serena Williams in Miami (although the last game was spotty at best). Here in Stuttgart she had to play Garbine Muguruza, who had beat Halep on the Fed Cup in Romania. But this time, on clay, she kept hitting the corners and won in three sets. That was gigantic because the Spaniard was willing to strike. Halep was ready, she didn’t just be reactive, but who saw her game beautifully.

That is what she occurred in Dubai in February, when she beat Wozniacki 2-6 6-1 6-1 in Dubai. She challenged the Dane’s sporadic forehand and charged. She faked her backhands when it looked like that her crosscourt would stay their forever but she went down the line very early and Wozniacki was confused. Yes, Caro was hurting during the third match, but she was healthy enough and simply lost because she didn’t know where to go.

What now on Saturday? The only way that Wozniacki can win over Halep is if she can stroke her forehands and backhands deep. Yes, she will also have to throw in some drop shots, but both of them are super fast so Caro can’t allow them to run up and go anywhere she wants. She has to fool her and then go for her much improved spinning lobs over her head. Her backhand is by far her best shot so she had to swing away early and often because Halep is pretty darn good, too.

Wozniacki has struggled this year but at least she’s trying. Maybe she has a real chance to win a big tournament again but not yet, and certainly not on clay. Halep will fight for hours, but won’t need to and will win in two entertaining sets.

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