Article

Beware the nearly beaten in Melbourne – Wozniacki could match Kerber, Li

17 January 2018 07:50

It appeared set to be another limp and shock, yet unsurprising, early-round exit for Caroline Wozniacki at a grand slam.

The Dane trailed Croatian world number 119 Jana Fett 5-1 in the third set of their second-round clash, facing two match points on a warm Wednesday at the Australian Open.

Melbourne has rarely been a happy hunting ground for Wozniacki, who has reached at least the quarter-finals in Australia just twice.

Yet the 27-year-old rallied and, with a fair bit of help from Fett, pulled out a 3-6 6-2 7-5 victory to advance to the third round on Rod Laver Arena.

Wozniacki, the world number two, is still waiting to win a first grand slam and with no Serena Williams, the women's draw is wide open.

In Melbourne, beware the nearly beaten, and Wozniacki may yet take inspiration from recent champions.

Arguably the greatest player of all time, Williams is rarely troubled when successful at the year's opening grand slam, although even her 2015 run to the title had some hiccups. 

But Wozniacki may channel Angelique Kerber (2016) and Li Na (2014) of recent champions.

Kerber saved a match point in the first round two years ago, almost beaten by Misaki Doi, before surviving to win her maiden major.

In 2014, Li was centimetres away from making a third-round exit when a Lucie Safarova backhand just missed on match point. The Chinese star went on to clinch the crown.

That held both in good stead for the remainder of the tournament, and Wednesday's scare should do likewise for Wozniacki.

In high-pressure moments throughout the rest of the major, Wozniacki has happy, and more importantly recent, memories to draw upon.

Wozniacki is in a half of the draw that should hold no fears and, while improvement is needed, there is no reason she cannot match Li and Kerber and make it a slam to remember.

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