“Every time I go into a tournament, I’m trying to win it. That’s my focus.”

Caroline Wozniacki was expecting a challenge at the Family Circle Cup—and she got it Thursday from Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. The top-seeded Dane had to win two tiebreakers to defeat Zahlavova Strycova, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (9) in a stadium court match that lasted more than 2 1/2 hours. It looked nothing like the 56-minute, cakewalk Wozniacki enjoyed in Wednesday’s opening match. “I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. I’ve seen her before and played her last year here,” Wozniacki said. Although, it sure looked that way at first. Wozniacki led 4-1 in the opening set and appeared ready to quickly oust Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic.

Zahlavova Strycova held serve twice to force the tiebreaker. The 25-year-old fought back in that one, too. After trailing 5-1, she won five straight points to hold a set point of her own. But Zahlavova Strycova sent that chance long and netted the next two points to give Wozniacki the set. Zahlavova Strycova took a 2-0 lead into the second set. This time, it was Wozniacki’s turn to rally. She twice held serve with Zahlavova Strycova ahead to force a second tiebreaker for the thrilled fans at stadium court of the Family Circle Tennis Center. Wozniacki moved in front 5-2, but Zahlavova Strycova fought off four match points. Zahlovova Strycova had a chance to take the set leading 9-8, but sent the ball wide.

Wozniacki will play the sixth seed, Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium for a spot in the semifinals. This is the first tournament on clay,” she said. “You need to get used to the conditions, you need to get used to sliding. There will be longer rallies in clay, there’s no doubt about it, and the matches will most likely be longer.” Wozniacki is among three of the top 10 players competing here. Fifth-ranked Samantha Stosur, the second seed and defending champion, fell to Elena Vesnina, 6-4, 6-1. Christina McHale, ranked 97th in the world, is the last American left after defeating Daniela Hantuchova 7-6 (3), 6-1. Shahar Peer, ranked 11th, missed out on the chance to become the first Israeli woman ranked in the top 10 when she lost to Julia Goerges of Germany, 6-2, 6-3.


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