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Indian Wells Women's Final Preview: Maria Sharapova vs. Caroline Wozniacki

By Pawan Atri    + Follow

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Keywords: BNP Paribas Open | Caroline-Wozniacki |Maria-Kirilenko |Maria-Sharapova |Angelique-Kerber
Indian Wells Women's Final Preview: Maria Sharapova vs. Caroline Wozniacki
At Indian Wells today it is the clash of the aggressor versus the counter-puncher as two former world no.1's and erstwhile champions collide in the final of the BNP Paribas Open. The Californian desert will certainly be gearing up for a feast of fire-crackers from the racquets of Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki as the pair strives to claim one of the biggest prizes in the sport for the second occasion.

Sharapova will be gunning for her 28th WTA tour crown and the first of the year against Wozniacki – a rival who does not have enough fire-power in the tank to take on the imposing Russian. The superstar has been brilliant throughout the week in the desert and has never put her foot-off the accelerator in her five matches. In the last 4 on Friday, she trounced her countrywoman Maria Kirilenko without being at her imperious best and yet outdueled her 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 42 minutes.

Against, the 8th seeded Wozniacki, Masha will attempt to take control of the points from the word go and with her pin-point accurate ground-strokes she will try to wear her down. The world no.3 knows that the match will be on her racquet if she can keep the unforced errors in check and does not allow the Monte Carlo resident to engage her in grueling exchanges from the baseline.

Meanwhile, her opponent Wozniacki showed great resilience, fighting spirit and unbelievable defensive capabilities to tame the wily lefthander Angelique Kerber to fix up a spot in the championship clash against the 25 year old. She implemented a plan in which she kept on putting all the balls back inside the playing area with the help of excessive top-spin. The 2009 US Open runner-up never took any initiative to strike a winner and waited for her rival to make a mistake.

Showing her bemusement over the tactics employed against the German by the world no.10, the Florida resident said: “It’s going to be a long day if you’re doing that for a long period of time. I mean, it’s not a good mentality to have, when you’re a junior especially. You’re kind of waiting for your opponents to make mistakes. You’re not the one that’s forcing the play and making it.”

On the other hand Wozniacki claimed her fellow competitor’s assessment of the courts was true as she had opined that the courts were as slow as the clay-courts: “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.”

The second seed leads their head-to-head 4-2 and has also triumphed in their two previous meetings. Their last encounter took place in the semifinals of Miami in 2012 and it was a real battle between the ladies as it became a slugfest of sorts with defense trying to overcome offence. In the end, as it generally happens the attacker secured a hard-fought 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory. However, the Dane has handed the diva two of the most crushing beatings – a 6-3, 6-4 straight sets conquest in the pre-quarterfinals of the 2010 US Open and a 6-1, 6-2 routing of an erratic Sharapova in the semis of Indian Wells.

Yet, on Sunday the outcome of the contest will be decided by varying factors. The first and the foremost will be how well Maria serves as her performance on the initial ball toss has been really up and down throughout the event. At times, she has been vulnerable to committing double-faults at critical moments and on other situations she has been fairly dominant – cruising through her service by holding them to love.

In the interim, the dynamics that can tilt the result in favor of the Odense native will be the steadiness and the cleanliness of Wozniacki’s forehand. Additionally, she has to come to the net pretty frequently to finish-off the points and should look to lengthen the rallies as much as possible as that would allow her to play the game on her own terms. Nevertheless, the kind of form Maria is in she will be hard to tame and with that she will able to end her title drought of nine months.

Pick: Sharapova in two.

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