Australian Open 2018: Caroline Wozniacki fights back from the brink; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga wins five-set thriller
Caroline Wozniacki pulled off a great escape to stay in contention while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated rising youngster Denis Shapovalov in a five-set thriller.
Melbourne: Second seed Caroline Wozniacki saved two match points as she battled back from 5-1 down in the deciding set to beat Melbourne Park debutante Jana Fett 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the second round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
Former world number one Wozniacki was simply outplayed by the 21-year-old Croatian for large parts of the match but won six straight games to avert the upset and claim her place in the third round.
“That was crazy, I don’t know how I got back into the match,” said a relieved Wozniacki.
”She’s a tricky opponent, she had nothing to lose, and I think she realised she was at 5-1 and she let off the speed a little bit.
“I thought, ‘this is my last chance and I’ll have to go on the attack’. Then things were going my way and I thought ’ this is my chance’.”
Fett, ranked 119th in the world, played some brilliant shots throughout the contest and rattled off eight straight points to win the opening set in 33 minutes.
Fired by the first of two rows with umpire Richard Haigh over delayed challenges, Wozniacki worked her way back into the contest to take the second stanza when Fett hit a return long.
The Croatian refused to fade away, though, and Wozniacki threw her racket to the ground in disgust after being broken for 3-1 with Fett driving home her advantage to stand on the brink of the third round at 5-1 40-15 up.
Fett twice served for the match but nerves got the better of her and Wozniacki took full advantage to set up a third-round meeting with Belgian Kiki Bertens or American Nicole Gibbs.
The Dane looked every inch the world number two as she briskly served out for victory, which came when a crestfallen Fett dumped a backhand into the net after a shade over two and a half hours in the sun on Rod Laver Arena.
“Experience was crucial today,” said Wozniacki, who is on her 11th visit to Melbourne Park as she continues her quest for a maiden grand slam title.
“I’ve been out here so many times and I knew how she would feel being out here against me and having the chance to win.”
Tsonga tames Shapovalov
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga required all his years of experience to tame Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov and reach the third round.
The 32-year-old former runner-up was staring at a second successive grand slam defeat to the 18-year-old tyro when he trailed 5-2 in the decider but as Shapovalov’s youth betrayed him for the first time, Tsonga roared back to rattle off the last four games for a 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-5 victory.
“I‘m tired but really happy,” the popular Frenchman, who has been troubled by a calf injury in the build-up to the tournament, said on Margaret Court Arena.
“I did a big fight today. It’s not easy to play the young guns, they play great and go for everything so it’s difficult to defend. I suffered physically but I continued to fight.”
Melbourne debutant Shapovalov, who won in straight sets in their US Open second round clash, crunched 60 winners throughout the three hour 37 minute firefight in soaring temperatures, but ultimately fell just short.
The straggly-haired world number 50’s explosive shot-making helped him take the opener in style after breaking the 15th seed’s serve in the fourth game of the match.
Tsonga, popular Down Under after his final appearance against Novak Djokovic 10 years ago, found some extra zip on his shots to level the match but the fearless Shapovalov continued to let rip at every opportunity to race through the third set in 26 minutes.
It was tight in the fourth as 32-year-old former world number five Tsonga used all his experience and physical presence to stay ahead on serve and take the teenager into a tiebreak which he dominated to win 7-4.
Shapovalov had only gone to a fifth set once before but broke in the second game and even had a chance to make it 4-0.
Tsonga dug in though and it was Shapovalov who crumbled when serving for the match at 5-3, misfiring two backhands and double-faulting to allow Tsonga to break.
The momentum was now with the older man and he played three faultless games to claim a 16th five-set victory and set up a possible clash with home favourite Nick Kyrgios who was due to play his second round later.
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