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Aleksandra Wozniak turns tables on Melanie Oudin

Aleksandra Wozniak at qualifying
by Helen Gilbert
Thursday 19 June 2014

For Aleksandra Wozniak the prospect of contesting a place in the Wimbledon main draw with her nemesis, Melanie Oudin, at Roehampton was not an appetising one.

The last time the No.23 seed faced her American opponent was at the Quebec Challenger event in September 2012. On that occasion she dislocated her shoulder during the warm-up and never even started the match.

Prior to that, she had lost to Oudin twice but on Thursday, under a gloomy sky and playing against the soundtrack of a schools sports day, the former world No.21 emerged triumphant with a 6-4, 6-3 victory.

The world No.118 always had the upper hand in the one hour 20 minute encounter, breaking the 2009 Wimbledon fourth-rounder early to race to a 3-0 lead.

Oudin looked out of sorts throughout the match, following almost every error with either a heavy sigh, drop of the shoulders or grimace. Every now and then she hit a purple patch, delivering her trademark blistering winners, but the lack of consistency would cost her the first set; she double-faulted set point down; and eventually the match.

"We have a lot of history," Wozniak told Wimbledon.com. "Every time I've played her I've got hurt. It's been a year and a half since my shoulder injury so today was really important for me to prepare mentally and play my game. I did what I had to do to win the match.

"I thought I made a bit too many unforced errors but it's not easy to play Melanie, she hits a good ball and heavy; especially on grass it skids."

Wozniak, who will be making her seventh Wimbledon main draw appearance, credited the WTA Tour and her team for helping her back on the road to recovery, claiming that she was only given a 45 percent chance of playing again without surgery.

"It's pretty risky having surgery, kind of career threatening, so we managed," she said. "They helped get me back on the court so I'm really happy that I was able to come back. Every match I'm playing it's getting better and better and I'm now 100 percent healthy.

"It's great, especially because it's been a tough journey for me, mentally and physically, with injuries. So I'm really happy and really thankful that my team helped me a lot."

Looking ahead to Wimbledon she added: "It's very special. It's always exciting and you feel so proud when you step on the court because of the history behind it."

Michelle Larcher De Brito, another player who knows what it's like to compete on the hallowed turf having reach the round of 16 there last year, extinguished Kateryna Kozlova's hopes 6-3, 6-3, while two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist Tamira Paszek ousted Ons Jabeur 6-1, 3-6, 7-5.

American Victoria Duval advanced to the main draw of The Championships for the first time in her career with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over fellow countrywoman Nicole Gibbs despite a persistent back problem.

Speaking about the winning point, which clipped the net, she said: "[The] match point, was sheer luck. I was like thank you God, I didn't want to have to go back to deuce. I think I played really well, I thought I was really courageous today because of the pain but that's part of the game."

Compatriots Irina Falconi, Madison Brengle and Shelby Rogers were not so fortunate in their main draw quests. Despite a three-set tussle, Falconi bowed out to Andreea Mitu 6-2, 6-7 (0), 6-2, while Tereza Smitkova dashed Brengle's Wimbledon hopes with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win.

Poland's Paula Kania beat Rogers 7-6 (12), 4-6, 6-3.

Elsewhere, No.3 seed Timea Bacsinszky booked a main draw place with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Veronica Cepede Royg as did Russian No.17 seed Alla Kudryavtseva who enjoyed a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Irena Pavlovic.

Croatia's Ana Konjuh saw off Stephanie Vogt 7-5, 6-3, Estonia's Anett Kontaveit dispatched Ashleigh Barty 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4, however No.6 seed Danka Kovinic was toppled by Ukranian Lesia Tsurenko 7-5, 6-0.

Follow the latest news and scores from Wimbledon 2014 on Wimbledon.com or download the official iPhone, Android and iPad apps.

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