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Caroline Wozniacki vs Shelby Rogers Toray Pan Pacific Open live stream: Wozniacki begins title defense in Tokyo

Brendan O'Neill in Tennis 20 Sep 2017
Photo by Tatiana

Caroline Wozniacki begins her Toray Pan Pacific Open title defense against Shelby Rogers in Tokyo on Thursday. 

Wozniacki vs Rogers Toray Pan Pacific Open tennis is live from Toyko on Thursday at 5.30pm local/9.30am BST. Watch and bet on tennis live at bet365 > live streaming > tennis

World no. 6 Caroline Wozniacki starts her quest for a third Toray Pan Pacific Open title on Thursday as she takes on the powerful Shelby Rogers in Tokyo.

Wozniacki enjoys a stellar 22-7 record at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, capturing the title in 2010 and 2016 (defeating Elena Dementieva and Naomi Osaka respectively) and finishing runner-up in 2014 to Ana Ivanovic in 2014. A semifinalist in 2013 and 2015, not since 2011 when she lost in the second round to Kaia Kanepi has Wozniacki failed to make the quarterfinals at least at the Ariake Colisseum.

When she captured the title in Tokyo in 2016, it was Wozniacki’s first title of the season and she comes back in 2017 also looking for her first title of the season – but the circumstances are very different. Twelve months ago, Wozniacki had endured a miserable, injury-marred season which saw her slip from world no. 17 to world no. 74 by the time the US Open came around. As before, New York proved the charm and she revived, after a run to the semifinals, to take the titles in Tokyo and Hong Kong and end the year back inside the top 20. 

This year, the constant pressure of injury seems to have been lifted off Wozniacki’s shoulders and she’s enjoyed a stellar season, compiling a 49-18 win-loss record. The only flies in the ointment have been firstly a lack of Grand Slam success – she made a solitary quarterfinal at the four majors, and that came at the French Open; at Wimbledon she lost in the round of 16, in the third round in Melbourne and the second round at the US Open – and secondly, an 0-6 record in WTA finals. Wozniacki has missed out on titles in Doha (losing to Karolina Pliskova), Dubai (losing to Elina Svitolina), Miami (losing to Johanna Konta), Eastbourne (Pliskova again), Bastad (Katerina Siniakova) and Toronto (Svitolina again). 

Currently sixth in the Porsche Race to Singapore, Wozniacki looks likely to return to the season-ending championships triumphantly in 2017 after missing out in 2015-16 – but her record in finals this year has to concern her, and she has to be frustrated with some of those defeats in major tournaments.  

Neither of those two things should be an issue when she opens her Toray Pan Pacific Open title defense against Shelby Rogers on Thursday – although that’s not to say it will be an easy match.

Rogers booked her place in the second round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo with a 6-2, 7-6(5) victory over Japanese player Risa Ozaki, a winning debut at the Premier-level event for the American. Rogers comes into Tokyo ranked world no. 57, having hit a career-high ranking of world no. 48 in January 2017 as a result of a strong 2016 season which saw her climb 97 places in the rankings and make her second WTA Tour final in Rio de Janeiro, where she finished runner-up to Francesca Schiavone. The indisputable highlight of the season though was Rogers’ performance at the French Open, where she opened with a three-set victory over then-17th seed Karolina Pliskova before going on to beat Elena Vesnina, Petra Kvitova and Irina-Camelia Begu to make a surprise Grand Slam quarterfinal, where Muguruza stopped her run.

Cracking the top 50 in January was largely the result of that 2016 French Open quarterfinal run, to which Rogers added a WTA Tour quarterfinal at the Hobart International. Rogers also went on to make the third round of the Miami Open and the quarterfinals of the Volvo Car Open, beating Madison Keys on the way, and the quarterfinals of Strasbourg as well as the third rounds of the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. At Wimbledon, indeed, she squandered a commanding lead against Angelique Kerber in a match which could well have seen her into the round of 16.

So it’s been a very solid season for Rogers despite her failure to defend her French Open quarterfinal points, and the American – who hits an extremely powerful ball – has beaten top-10 players before, taking out Eugenie Bouchard at the Rogers Cup back in 2014 and Simona Halep at the Australian Open first round for the loss of just four games in January.

Rogers has also beaten Wozniacki before, albeit via retirement: She led 7-6(8), 1-0 in Strasbourg this summer. That was on clay, though, a great surface for Rogers and arguably Wozniacki’s worst. Their only previous hard-court meeting was an extremely one-sided victory for Wozniacki, 6-1, 6-0 at the Rogers Cup in 2014. 

I definitely don’t believe this Tokyo meeting will be that one-sided. Rogers isn’t the fastest mover, but she serves well and, as I said, hits an extremely heavy ball; if she plays aggressively and accurately, she could really push Wozniacki. The Dane, however, has such a good record on Tokyo and has built a career out of outlasting and frustrating bigger hitters like Rogers who can’t match her athleticism or consistency. It should be a winning start to Wozniacki’s Toray Pan Pacific Open title defense on Thursday, with Dominika Cibulkova likely to await in the quarterfinals.  

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