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Wozniacki passes first big test

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Originally published on: 07/09/10 10:20

It takes one to know one, and after bowing out of the US Open in a fiercely contested fourth-round match with Caroline Wozniacki, 2006 champ Maria Sharapova gave her conqueror a verbal pat on the back that suggested the plucky Dane might just go on and win the whole thing.

“She’s at the top of her game,” said tennis’ reigning glamour queen of the likeable 20-year-old, who, decked in her latest Stella McCartney ensemble, threatens to take the glamour title along with her first Grand Slam in New York. “She’s playing the best tennis of her career,” added Sharapova.

Crucially, Wozniacki is displaying the kind of on-court confidence that merits the major prizes in tennis. Off it too, she has unwavering faith in her ability.

“I think I’m a really tough player,” said Wozniacki. “I never give up. Doesn’t matter what the score is… that makes me tough to beat.”

Sharapova found that out the hard way, and though she hadn’t dropped a set against Wozniacki in their two previous meetings (in 2008), the Odense-born right-hander lived up to her billing as top seed.

Tightly contested throughout, their fourth round encounter saw ferocious rallies, thumping hitting, and even bigger winners – Sharapova’s 32 dwarfing Wozniacki’s 16. But as often the case, it was the error count that made the difference, the Russian committing 36 to Wozniacki’s 10.

“I made her do those errors,” said the self-assured Dane when it was put to her that Sharapova’s error-prone ways might have handed her the match.

No longer just a likeable character with a solid game, Wozniacki’s fine form has put her on a career-best 12 match-winning streak. And she’s keen to keep it going long enough to go one step further than her runner-up effort at Flushing Meadows last year

“I believe I can do it,” she said. “I think I can mix up my game a little bit more than I could last year.”

Dominika Cibulkova will be intent on stopping her in her tracks at the quarter-final stage after she dispatched a ‘flat’ Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5 7-6(4) to set up a last-eight clash with the Dane.

The Bratislava-native was helped along to her first Grand Slam quarter-final by 10 double faults from Kuznetsova, several of which came at key points in the match.

“I just didn’t feel good today. I was very flat,” said the 2004 champion Kuznetsova, whose exit ensured that she went an entire calendar year without making the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. “I was just fighting with myself and was not doing all the time the things I was supposed to.”

Fifteenth-seed Yanina Wickmayer also fell victim to her own inner-demons, throwing the advantage of a first set bagel to fall to a 0-6 7-6(2) 6-1 defeat to Kaia Kanepi. The comeback win earned the 25-year-old Estonian a spot in her second Grand Slam quarter-final of the year, mirroring her dream run at Wimbledon.

Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva halted Andrea Petkovic’s career-best Grand Slam run, defeating the 22-year-old German 6-2 6-1.

“It was not easy out there at all,” said the Russian in spite of the apparently straightforward scoreline. “I think I just was a little bit more experienced player tonight.”

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