After enjoying a bye in the first round of the Kremlin Cup, Caroline Wozniacki went past Urszula Radwanska, the younger and lower ranked Radwanska sister, to advance to the quarterfinals.
The third-seeded Dane converted all three of her break chances to win the first set of the second-round encounter and in the second set she quickly established a pretty commanding lead, but needed quite a bit of time to finish the match, wasting four match points at 5-2 and closing out on the fifth match point in the following game. Final score: 6-1 6-3.
Urszula's 2012 season has seen her gradually climb up the rankings, from No.102 at the start of the year to No.29 earlier this month, while now she's No.30. In the previous round of the Kremlin Cup she took out Grand Slam champion Francesca Schiavone, who has lost six of her last seven matches. Unlike Urszula, Caroline has had a disappointing season, failing to qualify for the WTA Championships for the first time since 2008 and spinning from the top of the rankings at the end of the 2011 season to No.11.
The last month's Seoul title did end the year-long title drought, but it can't erase the overall discouraging feel of 2012. Some of the reasons for the slump are, according to Wozniacki herself, numerous obligations towards sponsors and the media:
Sometimes people don't realize how much attention, how much media, how much off-court stuff there is when you're at the top of the women's game and sometimes it's just tough to get everything together and your body just says 'I can't any more.' Constant promotional appearances mean much less practice time at major tournaments, which can damage a player's game. Other players maybe have the opportunity to practice four hours a day, whereas you maybe have one and a half, but you need to make the most of those one and a half hours.
Wozniacki's Moscow quarterfinal opponent will be fifth seed and defending champion Dominika Cibulkova, who advanced with a 6-2 6-3 win over Tsvetana Pironkova. Wozniacki is 8-3 against Cibulkova, including 2-0 this year, both on hardcourts.
Second seed Marion Bartoli is out, winning just three games against Sofia Arvidsson in the second round. Top seed Samantha Stosur is yet to open her campaign. (Wozniacki quote via Beyond the Baseline, photo: © Neal Trousdale)