NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - Four-time Connecticut Open champion Caroline Wozniacki was given all she could handle by Italian qualifier Roberta Vinci, who held three match points before the former No.1 steadied herself over the finish line, capturing a 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-6(7) win to reach her seventh quarterfinal in eight appearances.
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An underdog on paper, the former doubles No.1 and two-time US Open quarterfinalist had to be feeling confident with a 2-2 head-to-head against Wozniacki (one win on hardcourts in 2011), and took a quick 4-2 lead to start the match. But the Dane played her best from behind on Wednesday, winning four straight games to take the opening set and another three after falling behind an early break in the second.
Leveling the match in a tie-break, Vinci served for the match at 5-3 and had her chances late in the sudden death, but Wozniacki nabbed the win by the slimmest of margins - finishing with 123 points to Vinci's 122.
"I just kept fighting, really," the Dane said after the match. "It could have gone either way but thankfully it went my way."
The 2014 US Open finalist is no stranger to success in New Haven, winning her first 20 matches at the Connecticut Open before injury interrupted her streak in 2012. Playing at one of her favorite tournaments, Wozniacki is undoubtedly in hot pursuit of a fifth title at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.
"It definitely is home court advantage and I love that. It pulled me through today. You can hear the crowd; they push you just that little extra and I'm sure it might also have gotten into her head a little bit. Every time I won a point, especially when it got really tight, the crowd was cheering loudly for me.
"I love that about this tournament; I have so much support here."
Standing between her and the semifinals is French WTA Rising Star Caroline Garcia, who edged Slovak veteran Magdalena Rybarikova on Tuesday (Wozniacki leads 1-0). Garcia had a solid week at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, upsetting Sabine Lisicki and World No.4 Petra Kvitova en route to the round of 16.
"I haven't played her for a long time. She tries to take the ball early. Basically, she tries to be inside the court at all times. So, for me it's all about pushing her back."
A potential semifinal opponent for Wozniacki is Karolina Pliskova; the WTA Rising Star survived a tough opening set earlier in the day against the resurgent Olga Savchuk, who was playing in just her third WTA main draw in 2015, winning, 6-4, 6-1. Wozniacki has beaten Pliskova in all of their prior meetings, but all three victories have required a final set.
The final second round match at the Connecticut Open was contested between No.2 seed Kvitova and 2015 Australian Open semifinalist, Madison Keys. Keys came out on fire in the opening set, but the two-time Wimbledon winner (and two-time Connecticut Open champion) showed her mettle in the final two sets to eliminate the young American, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Kvitova was sheepish in victory, having just beaten a hometown favorite.
"It's true; I knew what I should expect from her. I know how good she's playing this year," the Czech star told fans after the match. "She beat me in Australian Open and I really wanted to win the match here, and also I'm defending the title here.
"Sorry, guys, that I beat your player, so I hope that you still like me!"