Tennis: Impressive Caroline Wozniacki continues march in Auckland

Caroline Wozniacki celebrating with the Billie Jean King trophy after beating Venus Williams in the WTA Finals on Oct 29, 2017.
Caroline Wozniacki celebrating with the Billie Jean King trophy after beating Venus Williams in the WTA Finals on Oct 29, 2017. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

(REUTERS) - Caroline Wozniacki continued to build on her WTA Finals victory late last year with another impressive performance on her way to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Croatia's Petra Martic to reach the quarter-finals of the Auckland Classic on Wednesday (Jan 3).

The world No. 3 ended 2017 with the biggest title of her career in Singapore and returned a day after thrashing Madison Brengle in her season opener to hit 21 winners against eight unforced errors in the 53-minute win over Martic.

"I'm trying to stay aggressive," the Dane said in a court-side interview. "I still made some unforced errors. It's taking a few matches to play like 100 per cent but I still felt I played pretty well today."

The top seed started brightly with a break of serve to love on her way to an early 3-0 lead and added another break in the eighth game to wrap up the opening set in just 24 minutes on a glorious day in New Zealand's largest city.

Martic tried to mount a comeback early in the second when she broke for a 2-0 lead but Wozniacki won the final six games behind impressive serving numbers, including six aces, to book a last eight encounter with American Sofia Kenin, 19.

"I've worked on everything I need to work on in the off-season," Wozniacki added as she continues her preparations for the Australian Open starting in Melbourne on Jan 15.

"Now it's just a matter of working out how to incorporate that into your match or into a situation where you maybe get nervous."

Kenin, a wild card, knocked out compatriot Varvara Lepchenko 6-4, 7-6(8/6) earlier in the day and there were also victories for Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova.

Hsieh recorded a 6-4, 6-3 triumph over Belgian qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure to set up a quarter-final clash against Strycova after the third seeded Czech edged out Sweden's Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-7(7/3), 6-2.

In the late matches, second seeded German Julia Gorges eased to a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Slovakia's Viktoria Kuzmova to book a last eight tie against Slovenia's Polona Hercog, who was almost as ruthless in a 6-4, 6-2 win over Kirsten Flipkens.

Former world No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska continued her strong start to the campaign with a 6-3, 7-5 win over American Taylor Townsend, the Pole holding her nerve in a tight second set that lasted more than an hour to advance.

Fourth seed Radwanska, who remains on a collision course for a semi-final against Wozniacki, next faces American qualifier Sachia Vickery, who defeated Paraguay's Veronica Cepede Royg 6-2, 6-4.