Wozniacki keeps title defense alive, Strycova stuns Konta

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki claws her way into the Pan Pacific Open quarterfinals, narrowly avoiding the fate suffered by fourth seed Johanna Konta earlier in Tokyo.
Wozniacki keeps title defense alive, Strycova stuns Konta

Czech Barbora Strycova hits a return to Johanna Konta of Britain en route to her 7-5, 7-6 (5), second-round victory at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on September 21, 2017.

Caroline Wozniacki kept her title defense alive at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on Thursday after eking out a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Shelby Rogers to secure a place in the quarterfinals.

The former world No. 1 trailed 0-3 in the decider before securing victory after toiling for more than two hours.

Pulling off an upset seemed on Rogers' mind as the American fended off three break points in the 10th game to clinch the first set.

Wozniacki wrestled back momentum in the second, converting two break points before firing back-to-back aces to force a decider.

Rogers raced to a 3-0 lead in the third set before Wozniacki staged a brilliant comeback, claiming six of the last seven games to advance to the next round.

"I knew she has powerful strokes and a big serve. it definitely was not easy," Wozniacki said in a courtside interview. "I'm just happy to win this one."

Wozniacki will face Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova in the last eight after the fifth seed thrashed Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-2, 6-2 in just 68 minutes.

Earlier, Barbora Strycova registered her first win over a top-10 player this year when the Czech edged out Britain's Johanna Konta 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Fourth seeded Konta dominated the early proceedings in her first meeting with Strycova and raced to a 3-0 lead before the Czech broke her back and went on to claim the first set.

Konta's dominant backhand put her 5-4 ahead but the British No. 1 could not serve out the second set, allowing Strycova to force a tiebreak and eventually seal the match.

"I'm very happy, because this match meant a lot to me," Strycova said.

"I don't have any words to say because I'm very emotional and very happy that I won against Johanna," said the 31-year-old who meets Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarterfinal.

Ninth seed Caroline Garcia of France beat local favorite Kurumi Nara 6-1, 6-3 to set up a quarterfinal clash with Spanish world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza.

In Seoul, South Korea, top seed Jelena Ostapenko dispatched Japanese rival Nao Hibino 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday to secure a spot in the Korean Open quarterfinals, as she seeks to move up the world ranking.

The French Open champion became the first Latvian to break into the WTA top 10 when she advanced into 10th place earlier this month and will now sail into her seventh quarterfinals of the year.

"I'm a top 10 player now, and players really have nothing to lose against me. They try to show their best because they have less pressure," the 20-year-old said after her first-round match against Swede Johanna Larsson on Tuesday.

"I'm a favorite to win this tournament so I have to prepare well and play my best," added Ostapenko, who now advances to play Veronica Cepede Royg on Friday.

Elsewhere, Romanian Sorana Cirstea put an end to the tournament hopes of American Nicole Gibbs with a 6-3, 6-3 win to face 24-year-old Thai Luksika Kumkhum.

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