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Wozniaki Dispatches Kerber To Reach Indian Wells Quarterfinals

Mar 13th 2024

Wozniacki dispatches Kerber 6-4, 6-2 to reach Indian Wells quarterfinal

Two moms, grand slam champions, and former world #1s battled in the desert for a coveted spot in the quarterfinals. This tantalizing fourth round encounter at the WTA 1000 event in Indian Wells, pitted lefty against righty and German versus Dane.

Caroline Wozniacki returned to competition last summer after retiring in 2020 down under two years after winning her lone grand slam at the Australian Open. During the 2023 summer hardcourt swing, she accepted two wild cards at WTA 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati. 

At the final slam of the season in Flushing Meadows, NY, she reached the fourth round losing to eventual champion, Coco Gauff. The thirty-three-year-old mother of two with thirty career titles including Indian Wells in 2011, is currently ranked #204 having attained the #1 ranking in October 2010.   


Angelique Kerber a three-time grand slam winner, announced her pregnancy before the start of the 2022 US Open having played her last match at Wimbledon earlier that summer. After 18 months and the birth of her daughter, the thirty-six-year-old returned to competition last December as a member of Germany’s United Cup team. 

Alongside world #6 Alexander Zverev, they won the mixed-team event and for Kerber, it served as a stress-free week to gauge her fitness and mental stamina. In sunny southern California, she defeated the tenth seed Jelena Ostapenko, and the seventeenth seed, Veronika Kudermetova. 

This was the sixteenth edition of this storied rivalry and the first at Indian Wells, with Kerber ahead 8-7, trailing 5/6 on hardcourts. 

Wozniacki won the toss and chose to serve. She missed 3/5 first serves yet held easily to 15 while Keber donated two double faults, faced three deuce and four break points, and dumped serve. 

The Dane struck two winners including an ace on game point to consolidate the break for 3-0 while the German struggled. Though she hit two incredible groundstroke winners, the forehand errors continued to accrue. For the second consecutive game, she faced multiple deuce and a break point but managed to hold, extracting an error from her opponent.

It was now the Dane’s turn to battle on serve and despite missing 5/8 first serves and facing deuce, held for 4-1 while Kerber made 4/5 first serves but with two additional forehand errors, dropped serve. 

Wozniacki served for the set up 5-1 but dumped serve following a deep return and outstanding backhand down the line from Kerber. The German with her trademark all-court defense and acute angles, made 6/6 first serves and with two spectacular forehands – inside-out and inside-in – held for 3-5. Wozniacki motioned to the chair that she needed the physio during the next changeover.     

While the opening set was hers for the taking, it grew ever more complicated as the errors now flew off the Dane’s racquet. Although she hit two consecutive backhand winners earning a set point, with four unforced errors and two break points, dumped serve.

During the changeover, the physio worked on her right foot which in addition to the ankle, previously had been tapped and took a medical timeout. 

Kerber attempting to level the set at five apiece, faced break point following two consecutive backhand winners from Wozniacki and though she saved it with a stunning backhand down the line, conceded the game and set with a netted forehand. 

Wozniacki served first in the second and held at love while Kerber committed four consecutive errors and dumped serve. The Dane made 3/4 first serves and consolidated the break at love while Kerber, looking a bit dejected while grabbing her back, donated three additional errors including a double fault yet held for 1-3

Wozniacki faced break point after a mishit backhand but with two consecutive winners including an ace out wide, held for 4-1. Kerber had requested the physio who examined her before the start of the last game and during the changeover, took a medical timeout.

Kerber made 3/5 first serves and with an inside-out forehand, held easily to 15 while Wozniacki serving with new balls, made 5/5 first serves and held to 15 for 5-2. The German serving to stay in the match hit two extraordinary forehands including her signature down the line ala Rafa Nadal, but it was too little too late as she conceded the game, set and match with two consecutive backhand errors. 

It was a sweet sixteen for Caroline Wozniacki as she leveled their head-to-head to make the final eight. It was a highly entertaining, hard-fought battle between two of the best ball strikers and movers. Wozniacki finished with two aces, zero double faults, and won 69% of first and 57% of second serve points. She saved 2/4 break points while converting 5/12 and won 18 more points than her opponent.       

The former #1 will play the current #1, Iga Swiatek for a spot in the semis. This will be their second tour-level meeting. They last played in 2019 in the second round at the Rogers Cup, an outdoor WTA 1000 event. Swiatek, eighteen at the time and ranked outside the top 150, bested the veteran in three tight sets.