Wednesday 21 March 2018

Narrow escape has freed me up to go for broke - Wozniacki

Wozniacki: "I think being almost out of the tournament, you have nothing to lose after that." Image: AP Photo/Vincent Thian

Simon Briggs

After swatting last year's Wimbledon semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova aside like a troublesome mosquito, Caroline Wozniacki admitted her narrow escape in the second round has helped her to play with more freedom.

The former World No 1 hit 25 winners yesterday in her 6-3, 6-0 rout - an unusually high ratio for a woman who used to be known as a stubborn defender.

If she keeps on swinging with such ambition, that long-awaited maiden grand slam title could soon be within reach.

"I feel good," said Wozniacki. "I think being almost out of the tournament, you have nothing to lose after that.

"You just go out there and enjoy yourself. I played really well from being down 5-1 (in the third set against unseeded Jana Fett in the second round). Since then I've just kept that going basically."

Rybarikova is generally seen as an awkward opponent because of her wide range of options.

Few women are so comfortable playing serve and volley or mixing attacking forehands with defensive slice backhands. But Wozniacki was only briefly disturbed by the Slovakian's funky style.


Having dropped her serve to trail 2-1 in the first set, she broke back immediately and then reeled off the last nine games to move into her first Australian Open quarter-final since 2012.

Wozniacki (27) said she had been inspired to keep working on her game by the example of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

"They come back year after year, and they play even better," she said. "I think if they can get better, then I can too."

Wozniacki will play Spanish baseliner Carla Suarez Navarro in her quarter-final, while Elina Svitolina is up against Elise Mertens.

If Wozniacki should go on to lift the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, she would become the fifth woman to do so after facing match point en route.

The last example was Angelique Kerber in the opening round of her 2016 campaign.

World No 1 Simona Halep also faced match points. The Romanian said she felt "almost dead" at the end but her hopes are still alive after she survived a remarkable third-round encounter with Lauren Davis.

The pair fought toe-to-toe for three and three-quarter hours before Halep won 4-6, 6-4, 15-13, having saved three match points and failed to serve out for victory three times.

The final set alone lasted two hours and 22 minutes. With the temperature a very comfortable 23C, both players were grateful that there was no repeat of the previous day's gruelling conditions. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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