MELBOURNE, Australia - In one of the most anticipated second round matches on the schedule, Caroline Wozniacki outsteadied Donna Vekic on a hot Thursday afternoon, holding off a late charge from the Croatian rising star to win in straight sets and reach the third round of the Australian Open.
By reaching the second round, Vekic is projected to crack the Top 100 on the next rankings - the first 16-year-old to break the elite since Wozniacki did it a few days before her 17th birthday in 2007.
So the two had something in common. But on the tennis court it was all business, and Wozniacki's experience was just too much for most of the match - she put together a solid -2 differential, 13 winners to 15 unforced, while Vekic had a -15 differential, 17 winners to 32 unforced. Vekic showed some fight, winning two games in a row to close from 61 41 to 61 43, but a few holds later Wozniacki won, 61 64.
"I knew I had to put the pressure on her and make her move from the beginning, and that I didn't have to go for wild shots," Wozniacki said. "I knew that she would feel the pressure sooner or later.
"I know the feeling, going in and playing a top player when you're young. I definitely saw a lot of potential in her. I actually thought she was going to go for more, but on the other hand I could tell she can keep the ball in play and go for it when she needs to. She's young, and she's going to improve a lot over the next few years, and I definitely believe we're going to see a lot more of her in the future."
And on the age gap? "She's six years younger than me - that's crazy, that definitely makes me feel old!" Wozniacki said. "But I guess we'll see more of that in the future. I should just get used to it."
Speaking of age, 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm continued to show age ain't nothing but a number in her second round match, recording a 62 75 win over Shahar Peer and creating history once again - she is now the second-oldest woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam in the Open Era, after Renee Richards, who reached the third round of the 1979 US Open as a 45-year-old. Richards lost that round.
Date-Krumm was asked how many more Australian Opens she's planning to play. "Five more!" she smiled. "But it's not easy, not easy. I need a new body. I've already practiced Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, then Tuesday singles first round, then doubles first round. Today my second round. And tomorrow maybe doubles again. So I need rest. But I'll try my best and I hope to keep going."
Awaiting Wozniacki and Date-Krumm in the next round are Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko and Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski, respectively. Tsurenko followed her first round upset of No.24 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova by beating Russian qualifier Daria Gavrilova in the second round, 75 63, while Jovanovski took out No.17 seed Lucie Safarova in a very tight two-setter, 75 75.
Date-Krumm was asked if she was going to watch the Safarova-Jovanovski match. "First I need to think of myself," the Japanese said. "I need to recover my body. Maybe my coach will check out how their match went, and then my coach will give me some advice, maybe. But most important is to recover."