DOHA, Qatar - The two debutantes at the Sony Ericsson Championships - Doha 2009 went to battle in the first match on Wednesday and what a battle it was, as Caroline Wozniacki fought back from a first set blowout to beat Victoria Azarenka in an almost-three hour nail-biter, 16 64 75.
Azarenka, the No.6 seed at the season-ending event, came out firing early on, losing the opening game of the match but winning the next six straight, finishing the first set with 11 winners to just five unforced errors. The 80-minute second set featured some very tight games, including an incredible 14-deuce fifth game where Azarenka fended off seven break points to hold serve for a 3-2 lead. But Wozniacki kept on fighting, eventually breaking for 5-4 and serving it out. Highlights: Wozniacki vs. Azarenka
With the heat rule in effect the players took a 10-minute break and Azarenka seemed refreshed, winning the first two games of the third set and eventually serving for the match at 5-3; although she was broken, she got to match point at 5-4, but missed a forehand long and eventually saw Wozniacki even things up. Interviews: Dramatic Win For Wozniacki
After winning the first set so easily and squandering her chances in the third, Azarenka lost her cool at that juncture. After falling behind on her serve at 5-5, 15-30, she smacked a ball out of the stadium, drawing a warning from the umpire. After losing the next point to go down 15-40 she smashed her racquet, bringing her a point penalty that gave Wozniacki the break and a 6-5 lead. Wozniacki calmly served it out, a service winner on match point sealing it. Highlights: Shot of the Day
"I just kept fighting," Wozniacki said after the two-hour, 58-minute battle. "The crowd, especially the Danish people here, helped me through this. I knew I had to step it up after the first set, otherwise she would just run over me. Now I just want to enjoy this great win and have a nice dinner with my friends and family." Wednesday Highlights
Azarenka is now 1-1 in the White Group, having beaten Jelena Jankovic on Tuesday; Wozniacki was playing her first match of the week.
In the second match of the day, top seed Dinara Safina had to retire tied 1-1 in the first set with Jankovic due to a low back injury. She later withdrew from the tournament and was replaced by alternate Vera Zvonareva, who will play the remaining two White Group opponents Safina was supposed to play. Interviews: Short Day For Jankovic
Safina, who will be replaced by Serena Williams at the end of this event as No.1 in the world, said she will have to take at least six weeks off from tennis and could miss the Australian Open, but will not need surgery. Features: Meet the White Group (Pre-Tournament)
"I've been having pain since Portoroz. I've been using antiinflammatories to play with this pain for about three months," she said.