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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki broke serve seven times and showed some knockout punch slashing successive aces serving out a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Sabine Lisicki to reach the Luxembourg Open quarterfinals.

Photo credit: Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open

A stylistic clash took a sudden shift in Luxembourg.

A match pitting one of the game's most imposing servers against one of its most accurate returners swung on a role reversal.

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A counterpunching Caroline Wozniacki broke serve seven times and showed some knockout punch slashing successive aces serving out a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Sabine Lisicki to reach the Luxembourg Open quarterfinals.

It was Wozniacki's 21st victory in her last 24 matches following a 13-14 start to the season.

The former world No. 1 stretched her winning streak to seven matches.

Perhaps drained by the run to her 25th career title in Hong Kong on Sunday, Wozniacki started sluggishly and looked winded at times. But she competed with vigor and drained critical errors from the explosive, but erratic Lisicki.

On a day in which German compatriot Andrea Petkovic crushed fourth-seeded Caroline Garcia, 6-1, 6-1, Lisicki tested Wozniacki. But the former Wimbledon finalist couldn't match Wozniacki's consistency or shake her self-destructive habit of indulging in the drop shot.

When a Wozniacki backhand sailed, Lisicki had the first break and a 2-0 lead.

A primary difference between these two is in their approach to point construction. Wozniacki plays points with the care of a commuter clutching her cell phone with both hands to avoid damage on a bumpy ride.

Lisicki, who can reach rollercoaster highs and lows during the course of a few points, showed a sense of shot discipline during the first set.

Wozniacki double-faulted then smacked a stray ball at the net in disgust gifting back the break and a 3-1 lead.

The 96th-ranked German powered through the first set only to see Wozniacki burst out to a 4-1 lead in the second.

Lisicki called out coach Chip Brooks, who preached a high-low message. The coach urged his charge to keep her energy level high moving her feet on her return and slightly lower her toss on her serve. Lisicki held for 2-4, but could not make up lost ground.

Two games later, Wozniacki whipped a backhand winner down the line breaking to force the decider.

Crouching low, Lisicki thumped a forehand down the line for triple break point. When Wozniacki shoveled a backhand wide, the German had the break to open the final set.

Watching Lisicki's puzzling impulsion to revisit the drop shot was like watching someone repeatedly tap the self-destruction button. Facing one of the fastest players in the game, Lisicki overplayed the dropper repeatedly and paid the price.

Moving up to a mid-court ball, Lisicki was in prime position to hammer a forehand approach. Instead, she opted to play a forehand drop shot that set up near the service line. Wozniacki swooped in for an easy angled pass breaking for a 3-1 lead.

For the second straight set, the former No. 1 stretched the lead to 4-1, but Wozniacki looked a bit weary during a coaching consultation with her father on the ensuing changeover.

Sensing Wozniacki wasn't at full strength, Lisicki won two straight games for the first time since the start of the match to cut the deficit.

An assertive Lisicki erased break point with a vicious forehand swinging volley. Nerves were apparent in an increasingly erratic toss. A double fault brought another break point. A wild second serve strayed long; Lisicki's dual double faults gifted the break and a 5-3 lead.

Snapping off successive aces, Wozniacki cruised to triple match point. Two points later, Lisicki scattered an inside-out forehand wide to end it.

Wozniacki's celebration was brief, she clutched at her stomach while walking to her court-side seat wearing the queasy expression of an unsettled survivor rather than the confident look of a resurgent player who has won 21 of her last 24 matches since the start of the US Open.

Wozniacki advanced to a quarterfinal with unorthodox stylist Monica Niculescu, who served 83 percent fighting past 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

No. 8-seeded Johanna Larsson needed just 58 minutes to dispatch Mona Barthel, 6-1, 6-4.

Larsson will play top-seeded Petra Kvitova, who defeated American Varvara Lepchenko, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, for a spot in the semifinals.

Kiki Bertens served 73 percent, hit eight aces and denied all three break points she faced in a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

The third-seeded Bertens meets Denisa Allertova in the quarterfinals. Allertova backed up her opening-round win over Genie Bouchard, stopping Czech qualifier Tereza Smitkova, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.


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