Stars Eye the Final 8 on Day Featuring Wozniacki, Stephens, More

It was in 2011 that Caroline Wozniacki, now 28, won the Volvo Car Open as the world No. 1, her 15th title in what was then a building, burgeoning career.

This week the Danish superstar returns to Charleston as a major champion (2018 Australian Open) and having amassed 30 career titles in total. She’d like to make this No. 31, and has enlisted former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone as an adviser to help her do just that.

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“There’s a few things I can improve and work on” when it comes to clay, Wozniacki told reporters Wednesday. “But it’s all about just trying to stay aggressive, but not overly aggressive, though still put the pressure on the opponent. It’s finding that balance of offense and defense and moving my legs and get a lot of speed in my racquet head.”

Those are the nitty gritty details that will go into Wozniacki’s match (third up on Volvo Car Stadium) vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu, the No. 12 seed. It’s one of eight singles contests set for Thursday, a day in which all third-round matches are played to determine the eight quarterfinalists.

While we started with five former champions in this year’s draw, we are down to three, with Wozniacki joined by defending champ Kiki Bertens (second up vs. No. 15 seed Maria Sakkari) and 2016 winner Sloane Stephens (7pm vs. No. 14 Ajla Tomljanovic).

No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic will open the day’s play in Stadium, taking on crafty American Taylor Townsend, the lefty who stunned last year’s finalist Julia Goerges on Wednesday for the biggest win of her career.

Bencic, a semifinalist here in 2014, has returned from injury in the last year and is building quite the resumé this season, having captured the title in Dubai and made the Indian Wells semifinals. And how about this: It’s a rematch of the junior girls’ Wimbledon final, circa 2013.

After Bertens-Sakkari and Wozniacki-Buzarnescu, No. 10 seed Jelena Ostapenko will take to the court to face 2015 finalist here and American favorite Madison Keys. Keys won their only previous encounter, back in 2016.

On the Althea Gibson Club Court, American Jessica Pegula will look to follow her upset of No. 4 seed Anastasija Sevastova when she takes on No. 16 Petra Martic. Next up, Charleston first-timer Aryna Sabalenka, the No. 3 seed, will meet 2016 Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig.

Danielle Collins, the 11th seed, is also making her Charleston debut, and gets Kaia Kanepi, the veteran who upset No. 6 seed Elise Mertens on Wednesday.

Who survives into the final eight? It’s ready and play to find out.