2016 Toray Pan Pacific Open champion Caroline Wozniacki survived a huge scare to start her title defense with a win on Thursday, coming from a set down to beat Shelby Rogers and reach the quarterfinals in Tokyo.
The third-seeded Dane, who hadn’t played since her second round loss at the US Open three weeks ago, lost the opening set to Rogers though had seemingly taken back control with a strong second set, only to have to fight from 0-3 down in the decider to seal a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over the American in her first match of the tournament.
Wozniacki, who beat Naomi Osaka in the final last year and also won the title back in 2010, will face either fifth seed Dominika Cibulkova or Katerina Siniakova in the last eight. Having lost six finals this season, she will be aiming for her first WTA title of 2017 this week.
Resilient Wozniacki pulls through spirited Rogers challenge
Wozniacki was undoubtedly the favorite heading into this match and undoubtedly had the advantage of receiving a bye into this stage, though Rogers fought admirably to make the former world number one earn her place in the last eight.
The clear underdog for this match, it was imperative for the American to get a good start, and she did just that as she broke in the opening game and had a point for a double break shortly after. However, Wozniacki saved that and eventually broke back, only for Rogers to break again at 3-3 and build up a slight lead. The Dane had her opportunities to even things up, holding three break points when Rogers served for the set, though the American remained firm and took the opening set.
After a poor opening set by her standards, Wozniacki needed a strong response in the second and got just that, breaking early on as she raced to a 3-0 lead. Rogers was able to stall some of the Dane’s momentum, getting on the board for 1-3, though Wozniacki held again and eventually broke the American for the second time in the set to build a 5-1 lead; the third seed made no mistakes when serving it out, taking the match to a decider.
Rogers had any momentum from the open set decisively snatched away from her by Wozniacki in what was a very impressive response by the defending champion, though the American remained undeterred and put herself close to pulling off a relatively big upset as she broke early on and built up a 3-0 lead in the decider. However, Wozniacki once again started to take control, and won 20 of the next 22 points to win the next five games, eventually serving out a hard-fought victory.