Caroline Wozniacki has invoked an air of confidence ever since arriving in Melbourne ahead of her 11th Australian Open, and her straightforward 6-2 6-3 win against Mihaela Buzarnescu in the opening round at Margaret Court Arena on Monday night left no-one wondering why.
“I’m just happy I’m through,” Wozniacki said afterwards. “I want to play every match well and hopefully that’s good enough (to win).”
On paper, Buzarnescu looked like she might prove a trickier customer for the world No.2. The Romanian, a wily lefty who has had the ability to disrupt the rhythm of a number of higher-ranked opponents in recent times, sits at a career-high world No.44. She is a player on the rise despite her relatively mature age of 29, having posted more wins than any other player since the start of 2017 (WTA and ITF combined). She was also the highest climber into the top 100 last year, coming from world No.484.
“We know each other very well. We played each other a million times in junior events,” Woznicaki said of her opponent. “She’s had a great year, so I knew it was going to be tough. I just put my head down and tried to fight for every point.”
Buzarnescu looked like she might have even more to add to that conversation early on in her debut Australian Open match, but she quickly began racking up errors, unable to deal with the depth and accuracy of the Wozniacki strike – and possibly a little overawed by the occasion.
The second seed broke serve at her first opportunity but Buzarnescu – a debut WTA finalist last week in Hobart – immediately returned the favour. However, it was one-way traffic for the resurgent Dane after that, as she rushed through the first set in just 29 minutes.
The Romanian settled in the second set, making the early running as she played with more poise, keeping Wozniacki off-balance with her court craft. The challenge was quickly snuffed by the Dane, however, who lifted her game to take the last four games of the match.
Wozniacki has now ended Buzarnescu’s chances at the last two majors, having defeated her in straight sets in the first round of the US Open last year – the Romanian’s only other appearance at the highest level.
Looking to finally break her Slam drought here in Melbourne, Wozniacki’s performance only adds to the momentum that began with her rise in late 2017 and only increased when she made the final in Auckland last week.
Wozniacki now faces Joanna Fett in round two, after the Croatian defeated Misa Eguchi of Japan 6-3 6-2.
Author: David Packman (© website Australian open) // Photography: Vincent Bons – www.grandslam-tennis.eu
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