Dubai: Caroline Wozniacki moved within one win of regaining the world number one ranking from Kim Clijsters by reaching the quarter-finals of the Dubai Open on Thursday without dropping a set.
The confident-looking Dane won 6-1, 6-0 against Ayumi Morita, a Japanese qualifier, and now seems odds on to regain the pinnacle after only one week as number two.
Wozniacki needed only 52 minutes to complete a one-sided victory over a familiar rival from junior days, and the outcome was evident from the moment the top seed saved a break point in the third game.
But Wozniacki would not consider becoming number one again.
"To be honest I am not really thinking about it," she insisted.
"I am so focussed on the tournament because that`s the most important thing for me."
Wozniacki rallied with characteristic consistency, and moved smoothly and well, but despite some good rallies she faced little that stretched her.
Her most significant achievement was dealing with an opponent who was able to mask her intentions with short backswings from double-handed strokes on both wings.
"You don`t get many players who do that on both backhand and forehand," said Wozniacki. "But I have played her before and had my tactics ready."
She now has to beat Shahar Peer, the first Israeli woman ever to compete in the UAE, who has had a remarkable tournament for the second successive year.
Peer reached the 2010 semi-finals in a sequence which included a win over Wozniacki.
So far this time she has three victories, the latest of which was a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, the conqueror of Australian Open finalist Li Na.
All the time Peer has played on the same security-designated outside court, with few spectators, careful checks, and guards patrolling the perimeters.
Of Friday`s repeat encounter with Wozniacki, she said: "She deserved to be number one because she won so many tournaments last year. But I will not be thinking about her becoming number one again obviously.
"I will be just trying to play my best and go as far as possible in the tournament."
Earlier Svetlana Kuznetsova, who missed six match points while losing the longest match in Grand Slam history in Melbourne last month, missed six more whilst gaining revenge over Francesca Schiavone, the third seed.
The former French and US Open champion from Russia beat the French Open champion from Italy 1-6, 6-0, 7-5 in another extraordinary match.
Their record-breaking fourth round marathon in the Australian Open lasted four hours and 44 minutes. This time their third round match lasted just under two hours, but contained a fluctuating final set which was 18 minutes longer than the first two sets together.
"Somehow she gets me out of it," said Kuznetsova in a puzzled voice, reflecting on the 12 match points the tenacious Schiavone saved in their two memorable contests.
"Actually I was playing better in Australia, but somehow it just didn`t go my way. Again here I couldn`t close it out -- just one stupid point, I said to myself. It was very difficult but I did it."
Another leading player to go out was Vera Zvonareva, the second seed, who was beaten 6-3, 6-2 by her tall and hard-hitting Russian compatriot Alisa Kleybanova on a breezy outside court.
"To handle her pace, I was trying to use pace as well, and I felt my ball was flying a lot and I made a lot of unforced errors. I just could not readjust," Zvonareva said.
Even more topsy-turvy was the exit of the seventh-seeded Victoria Azarenka, beaten 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4 by Flavia Pennetta, a top 20 Italian.
Pennetta led by a set and 5-1, lost her big lead, and then went 1-4 down in the final set before finding a new consistency in which she conceded only three points in the last five games. She next plays Kleybanova.