Caroline Wozniacki continues her preparations for the Australian Open with a quarter final against Czech, Barbora Strycova at the Apia International Sydney on Wednesday.
After enduring a lean spell for most of last season, the former world number one is starting to show the sort of form that took her to two US Open finals- and it was at last year’s US Open that her resurgence began.
Having not won a single Grand Slam match all season, Wozniacki put together a near-vintage run at Flushing Meadows, going all the way to the last four before falling to eventual champion Angelique Kerber. She carried that momentum into the rest of the year, picking up titles in Tokyo and Hong Kong on her way to breaking back into the top twenty. The Dane has shown no signs of slowing down in 2017.
Wozniacki has been one of the more consistent performers on the tour at this early stage of the season, with back to back quarter-finals in Auckland and now Sydney, and having blown a commanding position in her last eight tie against Julia Goerges last week, she will be desperate to make up for that on Wednesday by booking a place in her first semi-final of the new campaign.
Wozniacki had to overcome a spirited resistance from Olympic champion, Monica Puig in her opening match in Sydney, needing three sets to see off the Puerto Rican, but she was quickly out of the blocks in her second round encounter with Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva, racing through a first set bagel in just 23 minutes.
Things were more difficult in the second set as Putintseva upped her level. Wozniacki looked set to play her second consecutive three-setter in the tournament when Putintseva broke in the seventh game of the second set, but the Dane hit back immediately, and engineered another break in what became the final game of the contest to close out a 6-0 7-5 victory after an hour and nineteen minutes.
Standing between Wozniacki and that semi-final place is Barbora Strycova.
Like Wozniacki, Strycova will be contesting her second quarter final of the season, having lost at the same stage to Lauren Davis in Auckland last week. The 30-year-old has quietly put together a decent campaign, a continuation from where she left off last season. Without being eye-catching, the Czech was generally consistent through the season, reaching the finals in Birmingham in Dubai, and quarter finals in Rome, Wuhan and Prague. She was rewarded on the rankings, as she peaked at a career-high number 19 in the world.
The Czech has been very good in Sydney, securing impressive straight-sets victories over Ekaterina Makarova and Roberta Vinci to set up Wednesday’s meeting with Wozniacki.
Strycova is a crafty player with fantastic hand skills, hence her success in doubles, but again, she doesn’t possess the power to hit through a player who covers as much ground as Wozniacki. The Dane has dominated this duel, winning four of their six meetings. One of Strycova’s victories was via a Wozniacki retirement is Sydney in 2015.
But with Wozniacki fit and firing again, the odds are on the former world number one to go on and reach the semis in Sydney.