Auckland Classic: Serena-Wozniacki pair enters semis in women’s doubles

Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki defeat top-seeded Johanna Larsson and Caroline Dolehide 6-2, 6-1.

Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki (right) and Serena Williams celebrate after winning their quarterfinal contest.   -  AP

Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki prolonged their one-time-only doubles partnership on Wednesday when they won through to the semifinals of the ASB Classic. Playing in combination for the first time in their careers, Williams and Wozniacki beat top-seeded Johanna Larsson of Sweden and Caroline Dolehide of the United States 6-2, 6-1 after beating Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya of Japan in their opening match.

The pair will not play together at the Australian Open, which will be Wozniacki’s final Grand Slam tournament before retirement, but for an exhibition against Williams in Copenhagen in May. For that reason, the Auckland tournament offers the only chance for fans to savour the sight of two former world singles No. 1s playing as a partnership.

Toughest test

The match against Larsson and Dolehide, both accomplished doubles partnerships, was the toughest test of their partnership. Larsson has 13 doubles titles and Dolehide has been a US Open doubles semifinalist.

Williams was a driving force in their win on Wednesday, dominating the court, though she paid tribute to Wozniacki who, she said, “never missed.” Wozniacki will play Lauren Davis in the second round of singles on Thursday while Williams will play fellow American Christina McHale.

Bouchard in semis

Eugenie Bouchard came into the tournament as a wildcard entry after a difficult 2019 season and progressed to the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over eighth-seeded Caroline Garcia.

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Bouchard, who has been as high as No. 5 in singles, dropped out of the top 200 last year, at one stage losing 12 straight first-round matches. The 25-year-old Canadian showed signs of a return to form as she beat Garcia in 88 minutes. She incurred a time violation at set point in the first set but held serve, then closed out the match at her first opportunity.

World No. 15 Petra Marcic, the No. 2 seed, lost 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to France’s Alize Cornet, who finished 2019 outside the top 50 for the first time in eight years. Cornet sealed the match after 2 hours, 16 minutes with three consecutive aces. “It just happened to be the best time to do my first aces of the match and three in a row, come on! I don’t even know how that happened,” she said.