Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Tennis: Caroline Wozniacki serves up a warning

Caroline Wozniacki looks to whip a return shot during her comfortable victory over American Nicole Gibbs yesterday. Photo / Dean Purcell
Caroline Wozniacki looks to whip a return shot during her comfortable victory over American Nicole Gibbs yesterday. Photo / Dean Purcell

Get ready for some Danish delight. With all the talk about Serena Williams, and to a lesser extent her sister Venus, Caroline Wozniacki gave a timely reminder of her class yesterday at the ASB Classic in Auckland.

Wozniacki was all class in a 6-1, 6-0 demolition of American Nicole Gibbs that was over in just 51 minutes.

The fascination and emphasis on Serena is understandable - on her first visit to New Zealand and given what she has achieved in the sport - but it would be a mistake to disregard the rest of the field, and in particular Wozniacki.

Wozniacki has exuded a relaxed, positive vibe since she has arrived in this country, perhaps a byproduct of her strong finish to 2016.

After an awful first half of last year, where she dropped out of the top 50 for the first time in eight years, Wozniacki rebounded in spectacular style from August onwards.

She made an unlikely run to the US Open semifinals, then won tournaments in Tokyo and Hong Kong to return to the top 20.

"I haven't played for 2-months so you kinda have to start up again," said Wozniacki.

"But at the same time I know I was playing well at the end of the year and that gave me confidence going into the off season and it was fun to practice and get ready for this season."

Wozniacki certainly had fun yesterday.

She was on song from the start, in an imperious display.

Gibbs is a solid player, who has reached the third round of the US Open and been inside the top 70, but was made to look like a rookie.

"It was a really good start for me," said Wozniacki.

"I've been training really hard and I'm glad that it's already showing that I've been doing the right things. I tried to stay aggressive and stay close to the baseline and I served really well," said the Dane.

Wozniacki forced eight break point opportunities [converting five] and only dropped seven points on serve in the match, as she made light of the windy conditions.

"I had to adapt to that but I think I did really well," said Wozniacki.

"It's even for both players but you have to keep your head cool and laugh at a few missed shots. I managed to figure out which way the wind was blowing and use it to my advantage."

Others to progress yesterday included former champion Yanina Wickmayer, fourth seed Barbora Strycova and promising youngster Naomi Osaka.

Osaka was all class as she finished off a 6-2, 6-4 win over German Annika Beck while Wickmayer destroyed regular Auckland visitor Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-2 and Strycova dispatched qualifier Barbora Stefkova 6-4, 6-3.

The only notable surprise on yesterday was American journey-woman Lauren Davis taking care of Dutch star Kiki Bertens 7-6 (3), 6-4.

Top seed Serena Williams progressed, after an uncertain start, with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Pauline Parmentier while Kiwi Marina Erakovic slumped to a 6-1, 6-2 loss to highly-rated Latvian Jelena Ostapenko.

The evening session match between Venus Williams and Kiwi wildcard Jade Lewis was at 2-2 on serve when rain forced the players off court.

- NZ Herald

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