AO Profile: Caroline Wozniacki
Fresh from winning the WTA Finals, Wozniacki is in good form coming into the AO.
The world No.1 ranking is a glittering prize for any top player. But Caroline Wozniacki has been there before, so as she enters the Australian Open for an 11th time, the current world No.2 is focused only on the new.
“I think it is something that would always be special and really awesome. At the same time, I'm just doing what I can do. I'm just playing here right now. That's what I'm focusing on,” said the Dane as she faced media at Melbourne Park for the first time in 2018.
“Everything else will kind of fall into place. If I do it, that would be amazing. If I don't, it's still great. I've been there before, so it's not like it's something I haven't done. It's a little different, I suppose, this time around.”
Among 27 career titles there are no Grand Slam crowns for the 27-year-old, who first rose to the top spot eight years ago. A major title is therefore the top priority, and after completing 2017 with her most important victory yet at the WTA finals, she’s well aware that Australian Open 2018 potentially presents her best chance.
“I feel good. I think I've had a great last year. Something I'm very proud of. Just happy to be here, playing pretty well,” she noted. “Hopefully I can build on that.”
The confidence is natural given that Wozniacki continued the positive momentum from late 2017 with a runner-up performance in Auckland to start this year.
Such milestones point to progress made since she was first No.1 in 2010.
“When you're in the spotlight so much, when you play on big courts … obviously all the players know you, they want to beat you, you have a target on your back. They try to find new ways to beat you. You have to keep improving, find a way to be ahead of them,” she explained.
“I think I've improved everything. I think nothing that is very drastic, but at the same time it's small improvements all the time.”
Far from frustrated by the absence of a major trophy, Wozniacki is instead inspired by the challenge it creates.
“That's also what makes tennis fun. You're never perfect,” she said. “There's always things you can work on. You try and be perfect, but it's just not possible. It's one of those games.”
Such perspective is no doubt helped by her current highs. Returned to No.2 by virtue of her runner-up finish to Julia Goerges in Auckland, Wozniacki is seeded second at a Slam for the first time in six years.
Asked how she’d returned to that level, there was an easy explanation.
“Once I was healthy, I could just put the work in, like just mentally enjoy it more,” she said. “I think it’s a combination that all goes together. That’s been great.”
That positive state of mind will be key as Wozniacki begins her AO2018 campaign against Mihaela Buzarnescu, who she also faced – and defeated – in the first round of the US Open last year.
“She’s a tricky player, been playing well,” Wozniacki said of the world No.57 Romanian, who progressed to a first WTA final in Hobart his week. “She’s a lefty. Tries to mix up the pace a little bit. So it’s not easy but I’m just going to go out there and do my thing.”
And that will be without any self-imposed pressure from Wozniacki, who has learned that she can only do her best.
“I just play and have fun. That's it,” she pointed out. “It’s a new tournament, a new year. I’m healthy. I have the opportunity to play here. I’m just going to see where it takes me.”