WTA Sydney quarterfinal preview: Caroline Wozniacki vs Barbora Strycova

Caroline Wozniacki is building on some momentum, as the world number 20 is looking for a strong run at the Apia International Sydney, ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year at the Australian Open, where the Dane is still looking to capture her first Grand Slam singles title. The two-time US Open finalist lost to Julia Goerges in the quarterfinals of the ASB Classic in Auckland, despite being in a commanding position leading a set and 3-0 up.

The world number 19 Barbora Strycova, is playing some wonderful tennis at the age of 30, and the Czech is a former quarterfinalist at Wimbledon, defeating Wozniacki in the fourth round in 2014 to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, and deny Wozniacki a chance to complete her set of reaching all four Grand Slam quarterfinals.

How they got here

Wozniacki was set to be unseeded in Sydney but withdrawals from last week's Brisbane International champion Karolina Pliskova, and semifinalist Elina Svitolina both withdrew from the event, which elevated Wozniacki to the last seeding spot as the 10th seed. The former world number came through a tough three-set battle with Olympic Gold medalist Monica Puig in the first round, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, and in the second round, Wozniacki defeated last year's French Open quarterfinalist Yulia Putintseva, the player who upset her in the first round of the Australian Open last year. The Dane overcame the Kazakh in straight sets, 6-0, 7-5 to set up this quarterfinal clash with Strycova.

Strycova's passage through to the quarterfinals, has been slightly easier than Wozniacki as the Olympic doubles bronze medalist defeated two-time Grand Slam semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3, 7-5 in the first round, and in the second round, Strycova eased past ninth seed and 2015 US Open finalist Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals at the Apia International Sydney.

Strycova is flawless in Sydney thus far (Photo by Brett Hemmings / Getty Images)
Strycova is flawless in Sydney thus far (Photo by Brett Hemmings / Getty Images)

Their history

Wozniacki and Strycova have met on six occasions with the Dane leading 4-2 in their head-to-head meetings. The pair has met on all three surfaces with Wozniacki leading 2-0 on clay, 2-1 on hard court but Strycova leads 1-0 on grass.

The Dane won their first two meetings at the Family Circle Cup on the green clay courts in Charleston in 2010 and 2011 in the second and third rounds respectively both times in straight sets. Wozniacki won her third consecutive match over Strycova in the second round of the Miami Open in 2012, 6-4, 6-0. However, in their fourth meeting, Strycova defeated the former world number one in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5 to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon in 2014.

The duo split their two meetings in 2015 with Wozniacki coming back from a set down to defeat Strycova, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals in Auckland, and the pair met a week later in the first round of the Apia International Sydney but the Dane withdrew a set down and in the second set due to a wrist injury to hand Strycova her second victory over Wozniacki in six meetings.

Wozniacki is searching for her first title in Sydney (Photo by Brett Hemmings / Getty Images)
Wozniacki is searching for her first title in Sydney (Photo by Brett Hemmings / Getty Images)

Who wins?

Both players are ranked inside the top 20 at 19 and 20 respectively, should Strycova triumph over Wozniacki, she will reach a new career-high ranking regardless of the other results that occur in Hobart or Sydney. Although Wozniacki is ranked a spot lower than Strycova, she is the favorite to come through this match. The two-time US Open finalist will need to serve well and have her forehand firing on all cylinders, and she likes to dictate play from the baseline.

Moreover, Strycova has a good forehand in her own right, and she is speedy around the court, like Wozniacki. The pair's serves are not the strongest aspect of their game but their return of serve is much better, which the tenth seed is slightly better at. Strycova is an established doubles player, and she will not hesitate by coming to the net to finish off points but if they engage in long baseline rallies, Wozniacki will come out on top in those exchanges.

This is the first match scheduled in the Ken Rosewall Arena at 12 pm local time, and the winner of this match will face second seed Agnieszka Radwanska or Chinese qualifier Duan Yingying in the semifinals.

Prediction: Wozniacki in three sets