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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Australian Open Day 7: Caroline Wozniacki storms into last eight

World No 2 from Denmark will face unseeded Suarez Navarro from Spain for place in semi-finals

Caroline Wozniacki has been one of the more consistent players in the women's circuit. Dean Lewins / EPA
Caroline Wozniacki has been one of the more consistent players in the women's circuit. Dean Lewins / EPA

Caroline Wozniacki moved a step closer to a first grand slam title with a romp past 19th seed Magdalena Rybarikova at the Australian Open on Sunday.

The second seed handed out a tennis masterclass to the 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist 6-3, 6-0 in 63 minutes of mesmerising shot-making on Rod Laver Arena.

"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 a ruthless rout of the Slovak.

"I think you can tell my confidence is pretty good at the moment."

Rybarikova wanted to lay down an early marker and broke a sluggishly-starting Wozniacki to 15 in the third game.

But it only served to wake up the world No 2 and she made amends straight away.

Relentless pressure enabled the Dane to convert a fifth break back point via a delicately angled backhand across court.

Wozniacki was moving much the better of the two and broke again before a delicious disguised backhand drive down the line took her to set point.

It was followed by a forehand winner, her 14th of the set, as the opener was secured in 36 minutes.

Rybarikova had a breakout year in 2017 as she reached her first major semi-final and got into the world's top 20.

But she was being given a tennis lesson by the Dane.

She will face the unseeded Carla Suarez Navarro from Spain for a place in the semi-finals.

Elina Svitolina galloped into the last eight of the Australian Open with a late night 6-3, 6-0 demolition of Czech qualifier Denisa Allertova.

The in-form Ukrainian sprinted through the match that did not start until 23:56 pm Sunday at Melbourne Park in 57 minutes.

The world number four took her winning streak at the start of 2018 to nine matches after being crowned the Brisbane International champion earlier this month.

"Winning Brisbane gave me a lot of confidence and I'm very pleased with my performances here so far," said Svitolina, who had never gone beyond the third round in Melbourne in five previous attempts.

She was happy to get off court in a hurry after the late start and will face unseeded Belgian Elise Mertens for a place in the semi-finals.

"I think so," she replied when asked if it was the latest she had ever been on court.

Mertens, in her first-ever Grand Slam quarter-final, is also on a nine-match win streak having won the Hobart warm-up event.

"I know she had a great start to the year and she's playing great tennis so it is going to be extremely tough," said Svitolina.

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Carla Suarez Navarro used all her experience to grind her way back against a nervous Anett Kontaveit. David Gray / Reuters
Carla Suarez Navarro used all her experience to grind her way back against a nervous Anett Kontaveit. David Gray / Reuters

Suarez Navarro credits Henin for fightback

Carla Suarez Navarro used the only one-handed backhand left in the women's draw to mighty effect as she reached the quarter-finals for the third time.

The Spanish world No 39 came from a set and 4-1 down to register a 4-6, 6-4, 8-6 win over Anett Kontaveit with a delightful display of her old-school tennis she says is inspired by Justine Henin.

The Belgian former No 1 was renowned for having one of the greatest backhands in the game.

Suarez Navarro, who reached the Australian Open last eight in 2009 and two years ago, was asked how much of an influence Henin had been.

"I think a lot because we don't have too many players with one-handed backhands," she said.

"I saw a lot of matches from her. Yeah, she was one of my favourite players when I grew up."

Elise Mertens became the first Belgian since Kim Clijsters to reach the Australian Open last eight. Toru Hanai / Reuters
Elise Mertens became the first Belgian since Kim Clijsters to reach the Australian Open last eight. Toru Hanai / Reuters

Mertens brings joy to Belgium

Elise Mertens became the first Belgian to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open since Kim Clijsters in 2012 with a straight sets win over Croat Petra Martic 7-6, 7-5.

The unseeded world No 37 edged the big-serving Croat ranked 81 and will face either fourth seed Elina Svitolina or Denisa Allertova for a place in the semi-final.

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