It’s a battle of blonde former champions Sunday in the women’s final of the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open. Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki meet for the first time in a tournament final, and seventh time overall.
Sharapova, who ousted fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko late Friday night, leads the Caroline 4-2 in their clashes. But Wozniacki beat Sharapova easily 61, 62 in the 2011 Indian Wells semifinals.
Wozniacki, also a former No. 1 like Sharapova, is in her third final in the last four years in the desert.
“I really enjoy this tournament,” Wozniacki said. “I think it shows. I have done great results here in the past, and this is another very good one.
“I think the court suits me very well. I like that it goes fast through the air but it’s a pretty slow court. So I feel like I get out of the ball what I want; but at the same time, I feel like I get to a lot of balls. To have that mix is good. I really enjoy just the whole, yeah, the whole feeling of being here. You know, the crowd is amazing. Weather is nice. It’s very chill. Staying in a house. Just all that I think definitely brings into it.”
In her rather ugly win Friday over Angelique Kerber, Wozniacki successfully employed the moonball strategy to perfection to take the match 7-5 in the third. A sample of how things unfolded in that semi:
2006 champ Sharapova admitted she’s aware of the Dane’s ability.
“I saw some of those points,” Maria said. “They were really high and they all kept going in – I was like, ‘That’s a really good effort. I don’t think I can do that.’
“she’s always a tough opponent. She’s a grinder. She makes you work really hard on the court and gets a lot of balls back, you know, and has a lot of different variety. I certainly don’t want to give her that time or those opportunities, because she’s a really good player.”
Added Wozniacki, “Sharapova playing very aggressively and trying to take every ball on the rise and plays very flat.”
By virtue of reaching the finals, Sharapova, who hasn’t lost a set at the event, will overtake defending champion Victoria Azarenka for the No. 2 ranking on Monday.
Sharapova (27 titles) and Wozniacki (20 titles) respectively sit in third and fourth place among active players for most titles won, behind Serena Williams (47) and Venus Williams (44). Neither player has won a title yet this year.
The women’s final will be played at noon local time on Sunday and televised live in the U.S. on ESPN2.
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