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Caroline Wozniacki wins Indian Wells title

Caroline Wozniacki
Wozniacki has now won 14 WTA titles in her career

By Piers Newbery

Caroline Wozniacki further backed up her world number one status by beating Marion Bartoli to win her first BNP Paribas Open title in Indian Wells.

The 20-year-old Dane came through 6-1 2-6 6-3 in two hours and eight minutes to claim her second title of 2011 and the 14th of her career.

After dominating the first set, Wozniacki was rocked in the second as Bartoli took the game to her.

But the Dane forged ahead early in the decider and held on for victory.

"It means a lot," she said afterwards. "It's a big tournament and I'm very, very happy.

I can keep playing out there for hours and hours

Caroline Wozniacki

"It's pretty much a two-week event, and you have days in between like in the Grand Slams. Once again, I showed that I can play great tennis, and I've beaten some really good players this week."

In the absence of Serena Williams, who has been out since July with a foot injury and more recently a blood clot, Wozniacki has been battling with Kim Clijsters for top spot in the rankings, and her efforts this week have ensured the Dane will keep it beyond the forthcoming event in Miami.

With Clijsters forced to retire during her fourth-round match against Bartoli because of a shoulder injury, the way was clear for Wozniacki to win the prestigious Californian desert tournament for the first time.

And although she has yet to win a Grand Slam title, the Dane again proved she has no reason to fear anyone but Clijsters and, when healthy, the younger Williams sibling.

Wozniacki led the head-to-head 4-2 going into the final against Bartoli but had won their last meeting for the loss of just two games in Doha earlier this year, and a similar result looked likely when she broke serve at the first opportunity.

The Frenchwoman did well to hit straight back in game three but then called for her father, and coach, Walter at the changeover, with the problem apparently physical rather than tactical.

In unusually cool, slow conditions, Bartoli could not find the pace to hit through Wozniacki's impressive defence and the Dane restored her advantage with another break before moving to the net to angle away a volley for 5-1.

If every single match I could play like that throughout the years, I would be pretty happy

Marion Bartoli

The first set was wrapped up in under half an hour and Bartoli had won just 11 points, with a nagging shoulder problem only adding to her difficulties.

Wozniacki showed the very best of her game early in the second to scramble her way out of trouble by recovering a smash at break point down, and then a temperamental side as she smashed her racquet to the ground with the game slipping away.

Bartoli had stepped up the aggression considerably and it paid off as she moved 3-0 clear, and this time it was Wozniacki who needed advice from her father, Piotr, at the changeover.

They could do little to stop a now rampant Bartoli, however, and the world number 17 continued to attack the Wozniacki serve, move her opponent around and make regular trips to net as she broke serve again to force a final set.

Another pep talk from Mr Wozniacki at the start of the decider looked to have done the trick as his daughter came through a tough opening game on her way to 4-1 with the double break, but back came Bartoli again with some heavy returns to cut the deficit to 4-3.

It was gritty rather than glorious tennis now as Wozniacki steeled herself with the finish line approaching, and after a gripping rally ended with her lunging for a winner in the forecourt she closed it out when Bartoli fired long over the baseline.

"I can keep playing out there for hours and hours," said Wozniacki. "It's definitely a good sign for me when I can see the opponent getting a little bit more tired.

"We had a lot of long rallies, but I felt like I recovered maybe a little bit faster than she did. That's a good feeling to have on my side."

Former Wimbledon finalist Bartoli, who will return to the world's top 10 on Monday for the first time since 2008, said: "If every single match I could play like that throughout the years, I would be pretty happy.

"Even though I came up a bit short at the end and she was better than me, I think it was really a great fight."

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see also
Wozniacki sets up Bartoli final
19 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Bartoli battles into semi-finals
17 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Injury forces Clijsters pull-out
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Nadal defeats qualifier Sweeting
15 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Federer beats Andreev in opener
14 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Clijsters & Jankovic ease through
11 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Watson and Keothavong knocked out
08 Mar 11 |  Tennis

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