The first quarterfinal of the day at the Sydney International would be between Caroline Wozniacki and Barbora Strycova at the Ken Rosewall Arena to decide the first semifinalist of the day. It was expected to be the closest match-up of all the quarterfinal matches as Wozniacki and Strycova were just beside each other in the rankings with the Dane being ranked 20 and the Czech being ranked 19. Despite just lacking behind Strycova in the rankings, Wozniacki would be the favourite for the match as she leads their head-to-head record by 4-2, with their last meeting coming at the exact same location here two years ago when Strycova progressed after Wozniacki had to retire from the match due to an injury. Strycova eventually progressed in this match too after a very tough fight put up by both players in an 3 hours and 34 minutes thriller that was affected greatly by the roaring sun which caused the temperature to rise over 41 degrees Celsius.
Strycova comes through tough first set
Wozniacki started the match slowly as she was immediately broken in the first game of the match to lag behind early in the match. The Dane made the perfect reply in the following game though as she broke straight back to return the set on serve and prevent Strycova from consolidating the break of serve. Wozniacki earned the first hold of service in the match despite being pegged to 40-40 by the Czech but she failed to earn any break point opportunity to allow the former world number one to hold serve. Strycova regained the lead in the fifth game as she broke serve for the second time in the set. This time, she managed to affirm her lead as she managed to consolidate the break of serve with a very tough service hold that was concluded after 19 points which saw her save a total of four break points. Wozniacki seemed to find her best tennis when she won eight of the next nine points to get the break back once again to keep the scoreline level and give her a chance to win the first set. An exchange of service breaks followed as the set was extended into an 11th game after Strycova failed to take her chances as she failed to serve out the set. Fortunately, the Czech took her chances at the next opportunity as she broke serve at 5-5 to have the second chance to serve for the first set. This time she did just so as she successfully served out the first set which allowed her to be halfway from the win.
Wozniacki comes back from the brink
The start of the second set saw Wozniacki taking an early lead as she won eight of the first nine points to start the set with to take the early advantage to level the match. However, Strycova won two consecutive tight games from 3-1 down to return back level, having broken serve and saving a break point in her service game. The Czech had the chance to run away with the match as she went up 7-5, 3-3, 40-30 and had a break point opportunity. However, Wozniacki held her nerves to hold her serve and ensure that the second set remains on serve. Strycova finally found the next breakthrough just near the end at 4-4 as she finally managed to break serve and earn the chance to serve out the match. Similar to the first set, she wasted the first opportunity to serve it out as the second set was also extended to an 11th game. This time, the set had to be decided in a tiebreak as Strycova saved a set point at 5-6 to hold a nervy service game. The Czech world number 19 edged even closer to a victory as she jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the tiebreak within a blink of an eye. Unexpectedly, the Dane created an improbable comeback by winning six points in a row to in return earn a set point instead. Strycova saved her second set point but was unable to go return Wozniacki’s winner off a drop shot as she eventually allowed Wozniacki to level the match after over 2 and a half hours of play.
Strycova makes a comeback
Wozniacki looked to be the favourite for the victory and a semifinal place after she went up a break in the early stages of the final set as she broke serve in the opening game once again. Strycova looked to be down and out as she was hitting errors after errors which made her unable to break down Wozniacki’s game as the Dane grew with confidence point after point. There were three consecutive breaks from 3-2 which saw Strycova eventually return level and give herself a bigger chance to end the match as the victorious one. The Dane crumbled to the pressure at the wrong time as Strycova’s offensive style of tennis allowed her to earn match points on the Wozniacki serve, which she dutifully converted to claim the tough victory over 214 minutes which was the longest match thus far of the WTA tour.
Next up for Strycova
The fatigue would definitely be a problem for Strycova as she progressed to the semifinals of both the singles and doubles competition and playing for more than four hours on court today having to deal and struggle with the heat. She would next face Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals tomorrow with Radwanska being the obvious favourite as she is the higher-ranked player and has not lost a single match against Strycova. However, the momentum is running in Strycova now and she definitely has the capability to create an upset.