Wozniacki makes winning start to Australian Open title defence

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki is through to round two at the Australian Open after a straight-sets win over Alison van Uytvanck.

Carolina Wozniacki is bidding to become the first woman to defend the Australian Open title since 2013.

Caroline Wozniacki made a confident start to her Australian Open title defence with a 6-3 6-4 first-round victory over Alison Van Uytvanck.

In her first grand slam since announcing her rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, the third seed produced moments of top quality at crucial moments to see off her Belgian opponent on Rod Laver Arena.

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A single break in either set was enough to put the Dane through, Van Uytvanck unable to cope with the regular pressure applied to her serve. 

Wozniacki will meet Johanna Larsson in round two after Vera Lapko retired midway through the second set of their opening match in Melbourne.

After surviving an early break point in the opening game, Wozniacki took control of the first set in the sixth, piling the pressure on Van Uytvanck.

A tremendous forehand down the line on the run from Wozniacki brought a third break opportunity, but she was unable to convert as the Belgian produced a stunning backhand of her own.

However, a double fault handed the third seed a 4-2 lead and the defending champion never looked back.

A 96mph serve preceded an unforced error from Van Uytanck as she sealed the set inside 50 minutes.

Van Uytvanck's competitiveness continued in the second set but at the key points in rallies it was Wozniacki who held the upper hand, her piercing groundstrokes too good for the Belgian.

The decisive break came earlier than in the opening set as Van Uytvanck was immediately forced on the defensive, letting a 40-15 lead slip as Wozniacki turned the screw.

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Having got back to deuce and fended off another game point, the Dane showed superb defence on the baseline and when the opportunity presented itself she counter-attacked with style – a crisp forehand down the line giving her the break chance.

Another Van Uytvanck error gave her a 2-1 lead and that was quickly consolidated as Wozniacki eased into round two.

Wozniacki's emotions came bubbling to the surface after the win as she reflected on returning to the venue where she made her career breakthrough after more than a decade of trying.

“It's such a special feeling, I love playing back here,” she said.

“Last year I had some special memories and just to be able to be back out here on Rod Laver Arena is something extremely special and emotional.

“Now I'm going to start crying and I never cry.”

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Wozniacki [3] bt Van Uytvanck 6-3 6-4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Wozniacki – 21/16
Van Uytvanck – 25/34

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Wozniacki – 4/0
Van Uytvanck – 7/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Wozniacki – 2/7
Van Uytvanck – 0/2

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Wozniacki – 63
Van Uytvanck – 65

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Wozniacki – 68/78
Van Uytvanck – 67/46

TOTAL POINTS
Wozniacki – 73
Van Uytvanck – 59

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