In perhaps the highlight of day three at the Championships, second seed and reigning Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki faces off against world #35 Ekaterina Makarova. Wozniacki has never enjoyed particular success at Wimbledon and is yet to advance beyond the fourth round, a feat she has achieved at the other three Slams. Makarova, a semifinalist at the Australian Open in 2015 and a Major champion in doubles, will be eager to see the Dane exit even earlier this year. Who will win?
Wozniacki and Makarova have met eight times so far in their careers in a head-to-head that the Dane has dominated, winning seven of those matches. They have met twice on grass, both times at Devonshire Park, with Wozniacki winning in the quarterfinals 6-3 6-2 in 2009 and then again in 2013 4-6 6-0 6-3, again in the last eight. But, it was Makarova who won their most recent match, ousting Wozniacki in the second round in Flushing Meadows last year 6-2 6-7 6-1.
Path to the second round
Wozniacki arrived in Wimbledon fresh from winning her second grass court title in Eastbourne, eight years after she won her first also in Eastbourne. She looked to have carried the confidence gained from that title to the All England Club where she looked sharp from the off in her first round match against Lepchenko. The American showed flashes of fine tennis in the match, but was comfortably dispatched by Wozniacki who advanced a 6-0 6-3 winner.
Makarova, who is the top ranked doubles player and defending champion in the discipline but is without a seed either after splitting with former partner Elena Vesnina, began her singles campaign against Petra Martic of Croatia. Martic, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year proved a tough opponent for the Russian, but Makarova’s greater quality and guile eventually told in a 7-6 2-6 6-3 win.
How do they match up?
Though Wozniacki is not an entirely defensive baseliner, the Dane is certainly most comfortable when reacting. There are few better at using an opponent’s pace against them, particularly off the backhand side which is a rock-solid shot for Wozniacki and her biggest weapon. Her lack of commensurate power on the forehand and serve have, however, held her back at Wimbledon where the grass courts favour first strike tennis. But both looked in fine working order in her victory over Lepchenko.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given her success in the doubles, there are few players with greater sureness in the forecourt than Makarova. The Russian also favours her backhand side, but is comfortable enough going on the offence with her forehand. The battle between returns in this match should prove an engaging one. Both women excel when their opponent steps to the line, and breaks of serve may well prove fairly common in this match. Makarova is the better server of the two which may count in her favour.
This is an extremely tough draw for Wozniacki against one of the most experienced and dangerous operators on the WTA Tour. But the second seed looked full of confidence against Lepchenko, a sight not altogether common when she steps on to a grass court. Thus although Makarova has the quality to really make Wozniacki work, where in previous years she may have folded, here she can be expected to stand tall. Wozniacki to advance after a three-set battle.