Ruthless Wozniacki barges into quarters


Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki celebrates beating Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova in their women’s singles fourth round match on day seven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Sunday. AFP PHOTO

MELBOURNE: Ruthless CarolineWozniacki kicked into full gear Sunday to storm into the Australian Open quarterfinals with workmanlike Marin Cilic joining her after winning his 100th Grand Slam match.

On an overcast and muggy day at Melbourne Park, the world No. 2 Dane turned on the style to take another step towards a maiden Grand Slam title.

The assured Wozniacki, a semifinalist in 2011 who has never quite lived up to the hype in the majors, annihilated 19th-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-0 on Rod Laver Arena in her most impressive performance to date.

“She really mixes up the pace, I just tried to calm down, get my returns in and wait for the opportunities to attack,” she said after crushing the Slovak, who made the semifinals at Wimbledon last year.

“I think you can tell my confidence is pretty good at the moment.”

Her easy passage sets up a last-eight clash with gritty Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, who battled back from a set and 4-1 down to shatter the hopes of 32nd seed Anett Kontaviet.

The Estonian had been bubbling with confidence after despatching French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the third round, but nerves got the better of her.

The Spaniard, who has made the quarterfinals in Melbourne twice before, most recently in 2016, credited her fightback with a conscious decision to be more aggressive.

“I was thinking that I was playing good, but not too aggressive. I want to play like this, but sometimes you cannot,” said Suarez Navarro, one of the few who still use a one-handed backhand.

“My team all the time they say me, play aggressive, play aggressive. That’s I think what I did.”

Looking ahead to Wozniacki, she added: “I know how she plays. I know how tough she is. It will be a really interesting match.”

Former US Open champion Cilic mastered Spain’s 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in four sets to reach the last eight in Melbourne for the second time.

The sixth seeded Croat was the better of the two in the long rallies to win 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/0), 7-6 (7/3) and set up a clash with either world No. 1 Rafael Nadal or Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman on Tuesday.

“It was a big battle and I am really relieved that I played such a great tiebreaker at the end,” said Cilic.



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