MELBOURNE, Australia - No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki fought her way back from the brink of defeat against World No.119 Jana Fett to move into the third round at the Australian Open.
Down 5-1 in the third set and facing two match points, Wozniacki pulled off the improbable comeback to edge through 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 after a grueling two hours and 30 minutes.
“I'm very proud of the way I came back,” Wozniacki told press afterwards. “It was definitely very difficult. Definitely wasn't my best match, especially in the beginning. It was very different conditions.
“I just tried to mentally stay focused, tried to play my game. It was very hard, and she was playing well.
“All of a sudden seeing myself down, almost out of the tournament, I started playing better and started really playing the tennis that I wanted to play.”
The Croat made a fast start to the match, coming away with the lead after three straight breaks of serve at the start of the opening set. Fett had an answer for everything the World No.2 threw her way, outhitting Wozniacki and finding winners off every angle. She found joy off Wozniacki’s vulnerable second serves to break once more and close out the opening set in decisive fashion.
The Dane recovered with aplomb in the second, breaking through twice early on and reeling off four games in a row to build up a fast 4-1 lead. With her serve finally clicking and Fett’s unforced error count climbing, Wozniacki worked her way back into the match and comfortably took the second set.
Wozniacki must have felt a sense of deja vu as she started the third set much like she did the first: by facing break points. But this time she was able to fight them off, saving four break points to edge out a hold. The relief was short lived as Fett struck kept coming back, winning four points in a row to put herself ahead 5-1 and serve for the match.
Leading 40-15 on her own serve, Fett held two match points and looked a shoe-in for the third round, but a spate of loose errors gave Wozniacki the edge back into the match. Wozniacki went on to win the next six games in a row, leaving Fett reeling as she edged through the two-hour-and-thirty-minute epic.
“At 5-1, 40-15, I felt like I was one foot out of the tournament,” Wozniacki admitted. “She served a great serve down the T, as well. It was just slightly out. I was kind of lucky.
“Then I felt her tighten up just slightly. I thought to myself, You know what, at this point, make her win it, don't give it to her. When I managed to win it to 5-2, I said, Okay, I'm still alive. She still has four more balls to win in a row or in the game. I was like, Just try and stay aggressive.
“That was that.”
Through to the third round, the Dane will take on either No.30 seed Kiki Bertens or Nicole Gibbs.