MELBOURNE, Australia — Just the mention of Rory McIlroy’s name elicited a smile from Caroline Wozniacki.
The top-ranked Dane advanced to the third round at the Australian Open on Wednesday, and there were still three women in the field who had a chance of replacing her at the top of the women’s rankings. But instead of the usual questions about how she plans to end her drought at Grand Slam tournaments, she was asked if her boyfriend might be able to help her win her first major.
She smiled, paused, then relayed some of the advice McIlroy offered that helped him overcome similar pressure and win a golf major.
“Well, it’s just about you can’t really do anything about the past,” Wozniacki said. “You just need to look forward. You have a tournament now, and you want to do the best you can. That’s it.
“Then if it goes well, it’s great. If not, you have the next one. It’s like tennis.”
On Thursday, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova also won their second-round matches.
After taking a tumble on the next-to-last point of the match, Williams got up and whipped a backhand winner down the line to beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-0, 6-4 for her 500th career win.
Sharapova , the 2008 Australian Open winner, beat U.S. qualifier Jamie Hampton 6-0, 6-1 in 64 minutes.
Also, second-ranked Rafael Nadal advanced without much trouble from his injured right knee or from German veteran Tommy Haas in a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win. Four-time champion Roger Federer didn’t even need to pick up a racket because Andreas Beck withdrew from their second-round match.
The top-ranked American man bowed out when No. 8 Mardy Fish lost to Alejandro Falla, of Colombia, 7-6 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (6). But No. 16 John Isner survived a five-setter to beat former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian, who was enraged by an umpire who didn’t allow him to challenge a disputed line call because he took too long to ask for a review.
McIlroy was considered a major golf talent on the cusp of a breakthrough when he blew a four-stroke lead and lost last year’s Masters Tournament.
He handled it with such humility that it didn’t surprise anyone when he rebounded to win the U.S. Open two months later, when he was 22.
Wozniacki has been on the precipice, losing the 2009 U.S. Open final. Since then, she’s held the year-end No. 1 ranking twice but never returned to a championship match.