Aside from the fact that she won,how WAS Caro's play in Moscow?Did she go purely back to being the 'old Caro',or did she serve more powerfully and incorporate a few aggressive elements into her game??
OK - how did she play in Moscow? Well you've asked for it but here goes. Much more looking to take the initiative if she could. Controlled aggression.
Serve was never going to be a big factor on this slow surface. Her ROS was really good especially surprising Stosur. I mean Stosur is rated for her kick serve as one of the best and Caro sometimes had to take that really high. But she still got it back really deep and at a pace that sometimes took Sam by surprise. So it was overall how she played and the serve itsel by her or her opponent wasn't an important factor. So don't worry when people say her matches were awful or she was bad because she was always getting broken.
Caro had this forehand down the line today and she was controlling some points and using that to win some of her points. I really loved the way she did that. She did miss the line a few times - once in the 3rd set throwing her racket on the floor in disgust when she'd set the point up so well. But that FDL took Sam by surprise. Just something Sam didn't seem to expect.
The biggest problem for Caro though this tournament in the earlier rounds is how she played when serving for the match or serving very close to the finishing line and up a break. Although serving at the end of 2nd set against Sofia - Sofia played her best tennis then so it's a bit unfair to blame Caro too much there. We had that 44 stroke rally and another one nearly as long soon after which Sofia won with a winner both times. But in the 3rd set against Sofia - the last 3 service games when Caro was up a break - she was bad. And by that I mean UEs as well as being passive. For some reason, she just played and rallied so much worse than when she was serving than when on ROS. Nothing to do with the serve itseld. Just her whole game was bad on those last three 3rd set service games and really good play with controlled aggression on ROS.
Against Sam, she never had to serve for the match. She did have two poor games on her last service game in the 2nd set and her 1st service game in the 3rd set. But then mentally was the stronger player and continued with controlled aggression based on sound play and actually controlling more points than I've come to expect. Also her defence and her movement hadn't gone away either. She was moving as fast as she was when #1.
I have to say that the match today was on a knife edge and could easily have gone either way. Caro had 3BPs against her on her last service game of the match at 5-5. The last one and on a 2nd serve to the backhand court, Sam ran around on to her forehand and hit the ball angled cross court so hard I couldn't see the bounce and I thought she'd got the break. But it was out and Caro went on to hold her serve and then break Sam for the match.
So - I loved the way she was playing. Except when serving for the match or up a brak and near the end of the match. She hung tough and mentally stron against Sam. But that's the first time she's done that for some time. And she didn't have to aerve the match out. She broke to win.