Wozniacki finds mojo just in time

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Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark hits a return against Shelby Rogers of the US during their women’s singles second round match at the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament in Tokyo on Friday. AFP PHOTO

TOKYO: Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki clawed her way into the Pan Pacific Open quarterfinals on Friday, narrowly avoiding the fate fourth seed Johanna Konta earlier suffered in Tokyo.

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Former world No.1 Wozniacki recovered from a break down in the final set to beat American Shelby Rogers 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 after finding her mojo just in time.

The third seed, a two-time Pan Pacific winner chasing her 26th career title, stormed through the second set to level the match with an ace before inexplicably allowing Rogers to open a 3-0 lead in the decider.

But Wozniacki came roaring back, punching a backhand deep into the corner to turn the tide and spark a purple patch of form where the Dane suddenly began smashing winners from all angles.

Rogers had no answer to Wozniacki’s unerring accuracy thereafter and the world number six finished her off with a looping forehand the American could only dump into the net.

Konta, who crashed out in the first round of the US Open last month, again paid for her profligacy as she was upset 7-5, 7-6 by Czech Barbora Strycova to become the first major casualty in Tokyo.

Britain’s world number seven committed 43 unforced errors and squandered a 4-2 lead in the first set against Strycova, who came into the match 18 places below Konta in the WTA rankings.

Konta also blew several chances in the second, particularly in the tiebreak, which she surrendered 7-5 after whiffing another forehand wastefully long to give Strycova her first win over a top-10 opponent this year.

“I definitely wasn’t as match-fit as I would’ve liked,” said Konta. “But for my first match in the last few weeks, I don’t think I did that badly.”

Elsewhere, ninth seed Caroline Garcia safely advanced, the Frenchwoman thrashing Japan’s Kurumi Nara 6-1, 6-3 to set up a quarter-final with top seed Garbine Muguruza.

The Spaniard is playing her first tournament since reaching the top of the women’s world rankings.

AFP

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