MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Caroline Wozniacki continues to cash in on her second chance at the Australian Open, reaching the quarterfinals here for the first time since 2012 with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Magdalena Rybarikova on Sunday.
After her close call in the second round — she had to save two match points and come back from 5-1 down in the third set — No. 2-ranked Wozniacki said she was “playing with the house money” and had nothing to lose.
“I feel good. I think being almost out of the tournament, you have nothing to lose after that,” Wozniacki said. “I played really well from being down 5-1 … since then I’ve just kept that going.”
She has won both matches since in straight sets and will next play Carla Suarez Navarro, who came back from a set and 4-1 down to beat No. 32 Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 6-4, 8-6.
After a tight tussle in the opening four games against No. 19-seeded Rybarikova, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, Wozniacki dominated the fourth-round match and conceded only six points in the second set. She even tried a between-the-legs “tweener” from near the baseline for the first time in a tour-level match. She didn’t win the point, but said it was progress.
“I think you can tell my confidence is high,” Wozniacki, who finished last season by winning the WTA Finals title, said in an on-court TV interview. “I tried a tweener today and it went in.”
She looked at a replay on the stadium screen and joked “I’m admiring myself there.”
Sixth-seeded Marin Cilic collected his 100th Grand Slam match win as he advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (0), 7-6 (3) victory over No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta.
“It was a big battle. I was really relieved I played such a good tiebreaker at the end,” the 2014 U.S. open winner said. Of his major milestone, Cilic said he hadn’t been aware of it before the match “but it’s beautiful to hear.
“I had the 300th win of my career at the U.S. Open in 2014, so this is also beautiful one. I hope I’m going to continue and gather three more here.”
He will next play the winner of Sunday’s later match between top-ranked Rafael Nadal and Diego Schwartzman.
Elise Mertens reached the quarterfinals in her debut in the Australian Open main draw, beating Petra Martic 7-6 (5), 7-5 to extend her winning streak to nine matches including her run to the Hobart International title last week.
“It’s been amazing — good start of the year,” Mertens said. “This is really a bonus.”
Wozniacki could return to the top ranking if she reaches the semifinals and a combination of other results go her way.
She has never won a Grand Slam singles title but lost the U.S. Open final twice — to Kim Clijsters in 2009 and to Serena Williams in 2014.
Suarez Navarro has reached the quarterfinals at a major five times, but is yet to make the semifinals.
She has won two of their seven career head-to-heads, which date to a match on a lower-tier tour in 2006.
“Well, we play a lot of times,” Suarez Navarro said. “I know how she plays. I know how tough she is. She’s fighting every ball, but at the same time she can play aggressive. She has a lot of experience on these rounds.”
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