MELBOURNE, Australia - Former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki continued her Australian Open title defense with a decisive win over Johanna Larsson, edging past the Swede, 6-1, 6-3 on Wednesday.
"I thought it was a fine match," Wozniacki told the media, after her win. "I think I started off, played well in the first set. I think she stepped it up a little bit in the second set. I think I served well. Yeah, happy to be through."
Wozniacki delved further into her feelings about the match in her on-court post-match interview. "I started off really aggressively, I served really well," said the Dane. "Then [Larsson] started making less errors, she started playing really deep, coming into the net. It threw me a little bit off my timing. I was just trying to stay consistent, trying to stay as aggressive as I could in the end."
Wozniacki captured her maiden major title at this event last year, and won a ninth straight match in Melbourne after 66 minutes of play on Margaret Court Arena.
"I just felt at home straightaway as soon as I got here," said last year's victor in Melbourne. "It felt amazing to be back."
Once ranked as high as World No.45, Larsson was into the second round of the Australian Open for the third time in her career - matching a career-best result set in 2015 and 2016 - and has tended to play her best tennis on clay, winning both of her WTA titles on the surface.
Still, the Swede had played Top 10 opposition tough in her last two Grand Slam appearances of 2018, pushing Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber to three sets at Wimbledon and the US Open respectively.
Against the No.3 seed, it was an uphill battle as the defending champion looked in fine form after defeating dangerous floater Alison van Uytvanck in the first round. She shook off a 0-30 deficit in the opening game to grab the first break of the match, eventually rolling out to a 5-1 lead and serving out the opening set to love.
Larsson aimed to break that momentum to start the second set, saving three break points to get on the board early, but the Dane was undaunted, breaking serve two games later and holding on as victory appeared in sight.
Standing firm as Larsson made her last stand, the 28-year-old survived a long eighth game where she saved two break points and ultimately broke serve for the match with a searing backhand passing shot.
In all, Wozniacki struck 19 winners to 12 unforced errors; Larsson, conversely, struggled to find her range throughout the match, ending with 13 winners and 26 unforced errors.
The two-time US Open finalist was even more impressive on serve, dropping nine points behind her first serve and just one off the second, maintaining a 76% first serve percentage overall.
Up next for Wozniacki could be a blockbuster third round clash against 2008 Australian Open champion and fellow former World No.1 Maria Sharapova, who plays Larsson's countrywoman Rebecca Peterson later today.