Caroline Wozniacki returned to her ruthless best on Friday night, dispatching Kiki Bertens 6-4 6-3 to make the fourth round of Australian Open 2018.
The No.2 seed was forced to save two match points in her second-round victory over world No.119 Jana Fett, but under the Rod Laver Arena lights, Wozniacki avoided a repeat of any such drama against 30th seed Bertens, advancing in one hour and 26 minutes.
“I’m now playing with house money, I have nothing to lose,” Wozniacki said. “At this point I was out of the tournament and on my way home. I got a second chance and I want to take it, to see how far I can go.”
Wozniacki clinched the previous two encounters with Bertens in straight sets, and looked set for another comprehensive win when she raced out to a 3-0 lead.
Dutch baseliner Bertens clubbed a combination of winners to reduce the deficit to 4-5, but Wozniacki curled over a sumptuous backhand lob to glance the baseline, which was the highlight of four successive points to claim the opener.
The Dane soon appeared to have one hand on a fourth-round ticket with a forehand cross-court passing shot settling a hold to love.
The 27-year-old maintained her advantage until serving for the match at 5-3, in what became a turbulent quarter-of-an-hour tussle to finish the encounter.
Bertens went for broke and carved out break point with a belting forehand down the line and drive volley.
The Dutchwoman erased the first match point with a deft drop shot, and had a renewed vigour in her shots. Wozniacki’s serve faltered, but her trademark defence was exemplary as multiple break points went begging.
At the fourth match point, a Bertens return sailed long, and Wozniacki finally cancelled out any hope of a comeback.
“I end last season strong, I had a great off season and it’s great to be back here and playing these night session matches, it’s awesome,” added Wozniacki, who marches on to meet world No.20 Magdalena Rybarikova in the last 16.
“I’ll expect a similar type of match. She has a huge serve and forehand, so I need to be ready for everything. I need to be able to change the directions and get deep returns. That will be my focus.”