NEW YORK: Like her ex-fiance, tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki can hardly stop winning since splitting with top-ranked golfer Rory McIlroy.
Wozniacki continued her summer resurgence on Sunday with a three-set victory over Maria Sharapova to emerge as Serena Williams’s biggest US Open title threat.
Wozniacki’s 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 fourth-round triumph at steamy Arthur Ashe Stadium was her first success over the French Open champion since 2011, when the Dane was enjoying a 67-week stint as world No.1.
But the 24-year-old had only reached two quarter-finals from a dozen majors since those heady days until Sunday in New York.
‘‘It means so much to me,’’ said Wozniacki, engaged to McIlroy in Sydney last New Year’s Eve before breaking up in May.
‘‘To win today against a champion like Maria is an unbelievable feeling.’’
Coincidence or not, Wozniacki is well and truly back at the top of her game after McIlroy panned the couple’s wedding plans days after the invites went out.
The 2009 Open runner-up landed her 22nd career title in Istanbul in July, reached the semis in Montreal, quarters in Cincinnati – stopped by Williams both times in three sets – and is now back in the last eight at Flushing Meadows for the first time in three years.
McIlroy, too, is back in the swing.
The week after ending sport’s big love match, the Northern Irishman won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth – his first victory on either of the sport’s two major tours in 18 months.
Two majors at the British Open and PGA Championship later, plus another title at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, and McIlroy is on top again as world No.1.
Wozniacki wasn’t ready to discuss the ‘‘elephant in the room’’ after her latest big win, but admitted her dalliance with golf had helped her tennis in some way.
‘‘Golf is obviously a mental sport,’’ she said.
‘‘Sometimes it’s the small putts that can make a huge difference. You make a few putts here and there.
‘‘Again, same with tennis. You make a ball here, there. You know, important points, those are the ones that count.’’
They counted on Sunday when Wozniacki booked a quarter-final with Italian 13th seed Sara Errani, who ended the magical run of 32-year-old qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3, 2-6, 6-0.
The departure of fifth-seeded Sharapova leaves just two of the women’s top eight – world No.1 and two-time defending champion Williams and seventh-seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.
Five-time champion Roger Federer sat out a two-hour break for torrential rain to win through to the fourth round on a stormy, humid New York day which saw David Ferrer crash to defeat.
Second-seeded Federer, the champion from 2004 to 2008, defeated Spain’s Marcel Granollers 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 by racing away with 20 of the last 24 games of the match, which was interrupted by rain and the threat of lightning.
Federer, 33, is bidding to become the oldest grand slam champion in more than 40 years. AAP