Caroline Wozniacki pulls off amazing comeback at Australian Open
Think grand slam tennis comebacks and Jimmy Connors’ rally from 6-1 6-1 4-1 down against Mikael Pernfors at Wimbledon in 1987 springs to mind. Or Gaston Gaudio overturning a two-set deficit and fending off two match points against fellow Argentine Guillermo Coria in the 2004 French Open final.
You can now add Caroline Wozniacki’s heroics at the Australian Open to the list.
Wozniacki trailed Jana Fett 5-1 in the third set Wednesday and stared at two match points on the Croatian’s serve before winning six games in succession to move into the third round 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 on a day where temperatures exceeded 30 degrees Celsius in Melbourne.
But that’s nothing compared to Thursday and Friday, when the thermometer is expected to hit 39 degrees.
Wozniacki must have been boiling over when she heavily fell behind to the 119th-ranked Fett — making her first appearance at a major — in the decider.
Once, though, the Dane saved that seventh game she barely put a foot wrong against her now rattled 21-year-old foe, dropping a mere seven points the rest of the way.
It’s the type of win that could linger for Wozniacki, the former world No. 1 who is still chasing that elusive first major title.
She was unquestionably one of the form players heading into 2018, winning the year-end championships in October for the first time and seeing her ranking climb to No. 2 — her highest since 2012.
Not having her good pal Serena Williams in the field bodes well for Wozniacki — as well as everyone else.
Wozniacki’s next challenge is to get past 30th seed Kiki Bertens or Nicole Gibbs in round three.
Although not as dramatic as Wozniacki’s comeback, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also rallied against Canada’s Denis Shapovalov — one of tennis’ breakout players in 2017 — in his 3-6 6-3 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 victory.
The 2008 finalist was almost out of the tournament at 2-5 in the fifth set but claimed five straight games to gain some revenge after Shapovalov ousted Tsonga at the US Open.
Meanwhile, 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk became the youngest player to reach the third round of a grand slam since 1997 when the Ukrainian qualifier defeated Australia’s Olivia Rogowska 6-3 7-5.
Belinda Bencic was unable to follow up her first-round upset of 2017 finalist Venus Williams, however. The Swiss — who ended last season on a high after back and wrist injuries — was stunned by Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum 6-1 6-3.
Kumkhum’s best performances have come in Melbourne, having upset twice Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova in 2014.
Rafael Nadal, the men’s No. 1, plays Leonardo Mayer on Wednesday in a rematch of their duel in New York. Nadal won in four sets after struggling to convert break chances in the first two sets.