By Mark Poulose
Key Biscayne – Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki struggled early Saturday against unseeded Kaia Kanepi in the first match on Stadium court, but rallied to advance in three sets 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. It is Wozniacki’s eighth appearance at the Miami Open.
Wozniacki, known for her prowess from the baseline and the ability to extend rallies, battled both the conditions and her opponent in the first set. At one point, Kanepi won four straight games in the set, attacking the tentative play of Wozniacki amidst the gusty conditions. Kanepi ripped her groundstrokes throughout the set, winning it convincingly 6-4.
However, the match quickly unraveled for Kanepi in the second set. Kanepi won just five points on serve in the entire set, and lost it 29 minutes. Wozniacki’s consistency proved vital as the windy conditions affected the big hitting Kanepi, who faced as many break points (five) as she made first serves in the entire second set.
In the final set, Wozniacki broke Kanepi four times to win the set 6-3. Kanepi was unable to reciprocate the consistent play of Wozniacki, double faulted three times, and littered the scorecard with errors
With the win, Wozniacki season record now sits at 16-6, as she moves on to the tournament’s third round to face the winner of 16-seed Venus Williams vs. 23-seed Sam Stosur.
Twelfth-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon needed three sets to prevail over Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, eventually besting him 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-0 on court one.
It was an interesting match for Simon, who battled fiercely with Kukushkin for two sets before blowing him out in the deciding third set. Simon, a title winner this year at Marseille, played the role of defensive maestro in the third set Saturday, demoralizing Kukushkin with his combination of speed and shot-making ability, counterpunching from the baseline.
Although the match was closely contested for two sets, Simon was consistently fighting to break serve, doing so seven times during the match. Kukushkin, currently the 57th ranked player in the world, converted only 48% of his second serve points, and was time and again exposed from the baseline as rallies progressed.
Simon will face the winner of Ivo Karlovic vs. Alejandro Falla in the third round to be decided later today.