By Sudipto Ganguly
Melbourne (Reuters) – Caroline Wozniacki refused to be rushed into retirement on Wednesday as the former world number one fought back from 5-1 down in the first set to beat Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska 7-5 7-5 in the second round of the Australian Open.
The Dane had appeared set for an early exit at Melbourne Park, the scene of her only Grand Slam triumph in 2018, but rallied to win six games in a row against the 19-year-old to take the opening set.
Wozniacki, who is hanging up her racket after the tournament, made up for her lack of firepower with her trademark defensive skills, forcing the aggressive Yastremska into a series of errors.
“I was just, like, it’s coming really fast at me. She’s not making a lot of mistakes. I’m not getting depth on the ball,” Wozniacki told reporters.
“I was trying to think what to do out there to change that, and she started making a little more unforced errors. I got a little more depth on the ball, I started serving a little bit better.
“All of a sudden I kept getting one point after another and started getting the belief that I could get that set.”
She found herself 3-0 down in the second set, too, but again rallied before converting her sixth match point to seal the win over 23rd seed Yastremska at the Margaret Court Arena.
The Ukrainian racked up 36 winners in the match compared with the 15 managed by the Dane but unforced errors were her bane. Yastremska had 47, while Wozniacki kept her unforced errors to 15.
Yastremska took a medical timeout and had her left thigh taped while down 5-4 in the second set but Wozniacki did not let her focus waver.
“Obviously she tried to break my rhythm,” she said. “And at 5-4 I don’t think there is anything wrong. She was running just fine. So that’s a trick that she’s done before, and I knew that it was coming.
“But I was just trying to stay focused. I had match point. I had chances. I didn’t take them. Some of them she played well; some of them I played too passively.
“In the end I just tried to keep focusing, just keep grinding, keep hanging in there.”
Wozniacki, who is married to former NBA All Star David Lee, will face Ons Jabeur in the next round after the Tunisian beat Caroline Garcia of France 1-6 6-2 6-3.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Peter Rutherford & Kim Coghill)