‘Excited’ Caroline Wozniacki stutters into Australian Open semifinal

Caroline Wozniacki celebrates after defeating Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro during their quarterfinal at the Australian Open. (AP)
Updated 24 January 2018
0

‘Excited’ Caroline Wozniacki stutters into Australian Open semifinal

MELBOURNE: Second seed Caroline Wozniacki withstood a fightback from Spain's unseeded Carla Suarez Navarro to stutter into the semi-finals of the Australian Open 6-0, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2.
"I knew it was going to be tough against her because in the first set a lot of games were very close," said the Dane, who is into a second semi-final at Melbourne Park, after losing her first against China's Li Na back in 2011.
"Another semi-final here, I'm excited," she added after completing a see-saw win in 2 hour 11 minutes.
Wozniacki will face another unseeded player, Elise Mertens of Belgium, on Thursday for a place in the final.
"She's had a very good start to the year, she's unbeaten I think," she said of Mertens.
The former world No. 1 has often failed to live up to the hype in the majors, but in the opening set she outplayed Suarez Navarro who was trying to become the first Spaniard to make the last four since Conchita Martinez in 2000.
Wozniacki was 100 percent successful with service returns and had just three unforced errors in as near a perfect display as is possible over 34 one-sided minutes against the world No. 39.
Her level inevitably dropped and she had to fend off a break point at the start of the second.
Suarez Navarro finally got on the board in the eighth game to prevent a dreaded "double bagel" 6-0, 6-0 scoreline.
It fired up the gritty Spaniard and she sparked the late night crowd into life by breaking Wozniacki, whose accuracy began to desert her.
"She improved and made me step behind the baseline," said Wozniacki. "That made the difference."
Suarez Navarro suddenly found her timing and had a break point in the next service game which the Dane saved with her sixth ace before breaking back to level at 4-4.
Serving at 4-5 Suarez Navarro, who was in her sixth Grand Slam quarter-final and third in Australia but had never progressed further, saved a match point before taking it to a third on her first set point in the tiebreak.
"I was disappointed after I had my chance to win in the second set," said Wozniacki.
"But I'm proud to have stayed cool and close it out in the third."
Wozniacki regrouped and at 1-1 broke Suarez Navarro's serve.
When she repeated the dose to lead 5-2, the Spaniard's resolve was broken and she served out at 1:38 am on Wednesday morning in another late-night finish.


Saudi Arabia star gets to play against Cristiano Ronaldo as he makes debut against Real Madrid

Updated 16 min 4 sec ago
0

Saudi Arabia star gets to play against Cristiano Ronaldo as he makes debut against Real Madrid

  • Salem Al-Dawsari plays 33 minutes against Real Madrid
  • He helps Villarreal come from two goals down to rescue a point

Saudi Arabia star Salem Al-Dawsari came off the bench on Saturday night to make his La Liga debut and help turn the game against Real Madrid on its head.
The winger has been waiting patiently for his chance since joining Villarreal on loan from Al-Hilal in February and he must have feared his time in Spain would finish end without a single minute of action, but he was surprisingly thrown on by coach Javier Calleja for the final 33 minutes and he made quite the impact.
Buoyed by scoring for his country against Greece in midweek, Al-Dawsari came on for Javi Fuego after 57 minutes and injected new energy into the Yellow Submarines’ line-up. Pitched out on the left wing, he linked up nicely with his teammates and grew in confidence as the match wore on. On 70 minutes, Al-Dawsari picked up the ball near the center circle, exchanged passes with Rodri, then with Pablo Fornals, creating space for the former to set up Roger Martinez for Villarreal’s first goal.
Al-Dawsari then saw fellow substitute Samu Castillejo score an 85-minute equalizer to grab a point that meant they finished fifth. Champions League finalists Real Madrid had been two goals up inside 32 minutes thanks to efforts from Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Fahad Al-Muwallad was the first player from the Kingdom to play in La Liga when he came on as a substitute for Levante against Leganes earlier this month. And the forward, who is nailed on to be in Saudi Arabia’s World Cup squad, got more top-level minutes under his belt on Saturday when he came on as a 75th-minute substitute in Levante’s 4-2 defeat at Celta Vigo.