Melbourne (AFP) – Ruthless Caroline Wozniacki kicked into full gear Sunday to storm into the Australian Open quarter-finals where she will pit her wits against experienced Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
On an overcast and muggy day at Melbourne Park, the world number two turned on the style to take another step towards a maiden Grand Slam title.
The assured Dane, a semi-finalist 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 semi-finals 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 the gritty Suarez Navarro, who battled back from a set and 4-1 down to shatter the hopes of 32dn seed Anett Kontakion.
The Estonian had been bubbling with confidence after despatching French Open champion Jelena Osteopenia in the third round, but nerves got the better of her.
The Spaniard, who has made the quarter-finals 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.”
– Form player –
Spanish world number one Rafael Nada has been in imperious form, showing no mercy in dismantling his first three opponents as he sets his sights on a 17th Grand Slam title.
The top seed is up later on centre court against 24th seed Diego Schwartz man, ahead of an anticipated night match between Nick Kyrios and Gregor Dimitrov.
Nada is gunning to make the last eight for the 10th time and knows he needs to be at his best to get past the dangerous Argentine.
“He’s won three matches here, playing at very high level. He’s a very complete player,” said Nada, who is chasing his second Melbourne title after beating Roger Lederer in the 2009 final.
“He’s a player that if I don’t play my best, probably I am not going to win. Tough one.”
If he does progress, either Spanish 10th seed Pablo Correna Busta or Croatian sixth seed Marin Cilic will be waiting for him.
Ordinarily Nadal, as the top seed, would have top billing on Rod Laver in the evening, but not with local star Kyrgios in action.
The maturing Australian 22-year-old dispatched French veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last round and now faces third seed Dimitrov, who has struggled so far.
Kyrgios has an edge — he beat the Bulgarian on his way to winning the Brisbane International earlier this month.
The winner will play either Briton Kyle Edmund or Italian veteran Andreas Seppi.
Fourth seed Elina Svitolina — one of the form players after winning in Brisbane — is also in action as she looks to make the quarter-finals for the first time.
She will fancy her chances against Czech qualifier Denisa Allertova and a date with either 81st-ranked Croat Petra Martic or Belgium’s Elise Mertens.