AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Caroline Wozniacki continued her impressive start to 2018 with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Croatia's Petra Martic to reach the quarterfinals of the ASB Classic.
"I think there were periods where I was playing really well," she said in her post-match press conference. "There were a couple of mistakes here and there, but I think all in all, I can be happy with my performance, especially because she’s an aggressive player and serves big. I managed to serve well and get a lot of returns in the court."
Wozniacki ended last season with the biggest title of her career at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, and has taken that form to Auckland, where she made 21 winners to eight unforced errors to defeat Martic in 53 minutes.
She followed rival Barbora Strycova out on Centre Court after the Czech veteran won another grueling three-set match over Johanna Larsson.
"I was joking with Barbora earlier, because she was saying, ’The older I get, the longer I have to stay on the court,’ and I said, ‘Maybe you just felt the off-season was too short and you’re trying to get some more workouts!’ I obviously prefer to play shorter matches, so I take those as a positive."
A former World No.42, Martic enjoyed a thrilling return to the Grand Slam stage when she made back-to-back fourth round appearances at the French Open and Wimbledon, and tried to mount a comeback early in the second set, breaking for 2-0.
The Dane turned the tide from there, winning the final six games behind impressive serving numbers - striking six aces and winning 88% of her first serve points - to book her spot in the quarterfinals.
"It’s important to have fun with it," she said of the key to staying mentally strong throughout a long career. "I love to compete, and just being out there playing for something. It can get a little boring out on the practice court, doing the same things over and over. At the same time, you have to do that. But you learn to set goals and make it more fun to practice, even if you’re playing for ice cream or candy. That stuff usually motivates me!"
Up next for Wozniacki is 19-year-old wilcard Sofia Kenin. Known as Sonya, the American knocked out compatriot Varvara Lepchenko, 6-4, 7-6(6) earlier in the day, and made her major breakthrough last summer when she reached the third round of the US Open - playing Maria Sharapova on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I’ve never seen her play, but I’m sure my dad will do some research on her tonight. I’ll go out and do my own thing, but I’ll know more about her game by the time I play her tomorrow."