By Ros Satar, in Eastbourne

  • Caroline Wozniacki [1] v Aryna Sabalenka
  • First Meeting
EASTBOURNE, UK – Caroline Wozniacki reached back to back finals in Eastbourne where she will face Aryna Sabalenka.

 

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Caroline Wozniacki [1] v Aryna Sabalenka | First Meeting

It feels ironic that just a day after talking to some of the most established stars of the WTA about the younger players rising fast up the ranks, we have Caroline Wozniacki facing an almost giddy Aryna Sabalenka for the Nature Valley International title.

 

READ MORE | Nature Valley International | Radwanska, Kerber & Wozniacki talk about the new generation of players

Nature Valley International | Radwanska, Kerber & Wozniacki talk about the new generation of players

 

However, longevity these days is nothing to be sniffed at with resurgences around every corner and Wozniacki has come back from injuries and found a new vein of form, winning the WTA Finals title at the end of last year, before claiming her maiden Grand Slam in Australia, as well as being no stranger to the World No. 1 spot.

Aryna Sabalenka in the second round of the Nature Valley International, WTA Eastbourne 2018

Aryna Sabalenka in the second round of the Nature Valley International, WTA Eastbourne 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Sabalenka made her debit in Eastbourne this week, and has made quite the splash in the singles and the doubles. Having cracked the Top 50 this year, her trajectory looks like it will be rising sharply if her form on grass is anything to go by.

Coached by Dmitry Tursunov, he has been using a bit of reverse psychology to get his charge over the line in her semi-final. Playing the returning Agnieszka Radwanska, she took the first set, before going on a little bit of a walkabout, finally getting the upper-hand to book a spot in her biggest final to date.

She said: “It was bad start of the game, and I thought, well, okay, I am tired. Just try to find your game, find your serve. Finally I did it in the first set, and then totally lose it for second set and then found again. When you’re tired, it’s not easy to play every game like 100%, and that was my thinking on the game.

“I called my coach on the court, and he said, Don’t play. If you cannot do it, so just like retire from the game. I’m like, No, come on. I can do it. (Laughter.)”

She also credits the doubles with having helped her as she is claimed her 21st WTA main draw victory of the season.

“Doubles is actually pretty good for singles, because you can focus on serve and volley, returns. It’s really help you on the singles, because you believe in your volley game more. And this is a big thing.”

If she hoped for a quicker match though, she is out of luck as Wozniacki came through her second three setter of the tournament, coming from behind against good friend Angelique Kerber.

She said: “We know each other’s games so well. We have had a lot of tough battles. I knew it was going to be difficult again out there today, but I got a little lucky in that second set and just kept my head down for the third one.”

However, it will be a different affair against Sabalenka who plays a strong and aggressive game from the back of the court, along with an improving volley game.

“She’s been playing well this week and trying to play aggressive. I just have to be ready for the first ball.”

If anything will make the diiference here, with Wimbledon just around the corner, surely it will be experience? Dealing with the adrenalin, the fact that Sabalenka has two finals on one day, dealing with a Grand Slam starting a mere 48 hours later – all of these can add up on young shoulders.

Wozniacki continued: “I think you learn all the time. I think you get experience and maybe you make smarter decisions. But I think I have always been good under pressure, and I have always been good in tight situations. So, I think it’s all about just, you know, learning from previous mistakes and there will be mistakes in the future, too. But, you know, I think you just try and eliminate those and try and minimise those as much as possible.”

Wozniacki and Sabalenka will play the Nature Valley international final at 12:30pm (BST).

 

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