Wozniacki and Williams stay on course for final
Top seed Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams advanced to the quarter-finals of the Auckland Classic in dramatically contrasting circumstances yesterday.
Wozniacki had to battle back from a 5-2 deficit in the second set to overcome American teenager Taylor Townsend, who produced a superb all-court game that was mixed with blistering groundstrokes and soft hands around the net.
The world number eight raced through the first set 6-1 before the 2012 junior Australian Open champion finally got some rhythm to win four successive games in the second set and take a 5-2 lead.
Nerves, however, got the better of Townsend and Wozniacki scrambled back to 5-4 before she saved three set points to level at 5-5.
The former world number one then raced through the tie-break to win 6-1 7-6 (7-4) and set up a tricky quarter-final clash with Germany’s Julia Goerges.
Third-seeded Williams, who spent less than an hour on court on Tuesday, took a little longer to overcome Japan’s Kurumi Nara 6-4 6-1 o and set up possibly the pick of the quarter-finals against Russia’s Elena Vesnina.
The Russian world number 64 has a 2-1 career record over Williams, including a sensational 6-1 6-3 victory over the American in the first round at Wimbledon in 2012.
Britain’s Andy Murray and Heather Watson went down 2-1 to Poland in the Hopman Cup in Perth.
Watson lost to Agnieszka Radwanska and, although Murray’s win over Jerzy Janowicz levelled the tie, the Poles won the decisive mixed doubles.
Radwanska took just 65 minutes to prevail 6-3, 6-1 in scorching conditions.
Murray lost his opening service game against Janowicz but then reeled off nine games in a row to take control and eventually closed out the match 6-2, 6-4.
Murray could not take that momentum into the doubles, though, as he and Watson went down 6-4, 6-4 to Radwanska and Janowicz.
Former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has withdrawn from the Australian Open with an arm injury ry, but former US Open champion Juan Martín del Potro will make his comeback after a long-term wrist problem.