Wozniacki reaches quarter-finals

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The Independent Online

In the seven years since Roger Federer rose to No 1 only two men – the Swiss and his great rival, Rafael Nadal – have topped the world rankings. Over the same period the lead in the women’s world order has changed hands a remarkable 21 times, with 10 players filling the top spot.

Lindsay Davenport, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Justine Henin, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams, Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki have all worn the crown at some stage during the reigns of Kings Roger and Rafa.

For some, topping the rankings has amounted to a poisoned chalice. Jankovic, Safina and Wozniacki, the current No 1, have all had to endure jibes about the anomaly of a player leading the world rankings without having won a Grand Slam title. In the cases of Ivanovic, Jankovic and Safina, rising to No 1 seemed to prompt a dip in their fortunes as they subsequently struggled to live up to their billing. Safina’s has been the most spectacular fall of all: having been world No 1 only 15 months ago, she is likely to drop out of the top 100 in next week’s updated ranking list.

Only one of the last five players to be ranked No 1 went beyond the fourth round in their first Grand Slam tournament after reaching the top. Safina was the exception, reaching the French Open final in 2009. The others all went out early: Mauresmo in the third round at the French Open in 2006, Sharapova in the fourth round at the French Open in 2008, Ivanovic in the third round at Wimbledon in 2008 and Jankovic in the fourth round at the Australian Open in 2009.

Wozniacki has at least avoided that fate. The 20-year-old Dane maintained her progress at this year’s Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Anastasija Sevastova here today. The win puts her through to the quarter-finals of the year’s opening Grand Slam event for the first time.

One more victory would ensure that Wozniacki retains the world No 1 ranking at the end of the tournament, but that alone would not satisfy her. She believes she can claim her maiden Grand Slam title next weekend. “I'm feeling confident,” she said after today’s win. “I feel like I can beat anyone on a good day. I think they have to fear me when they're playing me.”

Sevastova, the world No 46, lost in the first round on her only appearance here last year but had impressed in her first three matches this time around, not losing a set. The 20-year-old Latvian, who is based in Vienna, took a 3-1 lead before Wozniacki got down to business. The Dane won six games in a row as she took the first set and opened the second with a break of serve. Sevastova made a match of it in the second set, fighting back to 4-4, before Wozniacki closed out victory.

Wozniacki’s jovial jousting with the media continued at her post-match press conference. Forty-eight hours after starting her comments with a lengthy monologue in which she answered all the questions she said she expected to be asked, she told the assembled media that she had recently come off second best in an encounter with a baby kangaroo.

The Dane said that she had approached the marsupial on a visit to a wildlife park. The kangaroo, which had been lying on the grass, did not appreciate the attention and Wozniacki said she was left with a scratched shin, for which she sought hospital treatment.

“I thought I was going to be nice and try to help it out because it was just lying there - I thought maybe it needed some help,” Wozniacki said. “I found out that I shouldn't do that. It looked so cute, but once it started scratching me, I was a coward and I ran away.”

A little while later Wozniacki sent a message on Twitter: “Round 2 with the media: hope you enjoyed my kangaroo story, hope you know I was just kidding. See you on Tuesday for round 3!”

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