Tennis

Wozniacki: I've got nothing to lose

Second seed adopts free-hitting approach after nearly getting knocked out in second round

World No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki said she is playing with "nothing to lose" after reaching the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time in six years yesterday.

The Dane crunched 25 winners in a 63-minute masterclass as she thrashed Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-0 to move a step closer to a long-awaited first Grand Slam title.

Wozniacki, 27, dropped a mere six points in the second set against the 19th-ranked Rybarikova and said her free-hitting approach was the result of almost losing in the second round.

The former world No. 1 saved two match-points against Croatia's Jane Fett in the second round, recovering from 5-1 down in the decider to reel off six consecutive games.

She has not looked back since.

"I feel good. I think being almost out of the tournament, you have nothing to lose after that," the second seed said. "You just go out there and you enjoy yourself. I played really well from being down 5-1.

"Since then, I've just kept that going basically.

Such is her confidence that Wozniacki even attempted a between-the-legs "tweener" in the first set.

"I think you can tell my confidence is pretty good, I was pretty proud of that," she said of the trick shot that failed to earn her a point but delighted the Rod Laver crowd.

"I've tried a few in practice and made a couple but usually make a fool out of myself."

Rybarikova gained the first break of serve in the third game but Wozniacki soon settled into her rhythm and broke back immediately before taking control.

She brought up a match-point with a flashing backhand winner down the line and pounded another sweetly struck backhand to finish the contest at the first time of asking.

Angelique Kerber saved a match-point during her run to the title in 2016 and the way Wozniacki has responded from a similar crisis marks her out as favourite to emulate that.

Not that she is getting carried away, especially with tricky Carla Suarez Navarro standing in her way next.

"We've played four matches, is that right, so far? There's still three to go. There's still a long way," she said.

"I'm expecting a tough fight (against Suarez Navarro). She's had a few injuries. She's back playing really well."

Meanwhile, in yesterday's late match, fourth seed Elina Svitolina defeated Denisa Allertova 6-3, 6-0. - REUTERS

Tennis