Caroline Wozniacki needs little in the way of introduction to US Open fans. The Dane, twice a finalist at Flushing Meadows, has also reached the semifinals on three other occasions. With a win-loss record of 34-10 at the tournment, it’s clear: New York is the happiest of her Grand Slam hunting grounds.
Wozniacki is a former world No. 1, a winner of 25 WTA titles and almost $24 million in prize money. She has a devoted social media following – 2.45 million on Twitter, 1.55 million on Facebook and 1.1 million on Instagram. She also wears Stella McCartney’s iconic line of adidas tennis apparel and endorses brands, including Rolex watches.
In short, she’s one of the game’s biggest superstars.
Yet behind the glossy media profile lurks one of the sport’s hardest workers and grittiest competitors. Wozniacki arrived at last year’s US Open ranked a lowly No. 74, suffering through an injury-plagued first half of the 2016 season. Less than a year later, she’s ranked No. 6.
Wozniacki’s resurgence began with a trip to the final four in New York last year and has continued in 2017. She’s reached tournament finals in Doha, Dubai, Miami and Eastbourne and also advanced to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros.
Playing with an extra dose of aggression to complement her stellar athleticism and retrieving skills, Wozniacki’s confidence is soaring as she targets an elusive first major title. Who’d bet against her breaking through in New York?
She sat down with USOpen.org in Bastad, Sweden, in a week during which she reached another WTA final.
USOpen.org: Less than a year ago, you were ranked No. 74. Now you're at No. 6. Did you imagine you would shoot up the rankings so quickly in that time?
Caroline Wozniacki: I think I believed in myself, and I never felt like I was outside of the Top 10 (in terms of) the feel when I was playing. Obviously, injuries – you can't really do anything against them. You can prevent as much as you can, but sometimes it's a sport and things happen. My ranking dropped, but at the same time, I knew I was working hard. I had actually, looking back, a nice break being at home and just having to get my whole body fit again. I came back when I felt like I was ready, and I didn't push it. I think that really made a difference. I think being older and being more experienced and not stressing about it was the main thing.
USOpen.org: What are some of the things – physical, mental, technical, tactical – clicking in your game that have helped you get back inside the Top 10 and knocking on the door of the Top 5 again?
Caroline Wozniacki: I think the fact that I've stayed healthy has been a huge factor. Because of that, I've been able to work hard and practice as much as I wanted and as well as I wanted, and that's helped me to mentally feel good about my game and feel good when I go out there on the match court.
USOpen.org: You've reached four tournament finals this year, but unfortunately haven't been able to win one. What will help you get over the line in the next one, and how motivating is that?
Caroline Wozniacki: I keep putting myself in contention. It's always a great spot to be at, and, of course, it's frustrating I haven't won one of the finals yet this year (laughter), but I'm just going to keep working at it and hopefully put myself in even more positions like that where I have a chance to win. (Wozniacki went on to reach her fifth final of the year in Bastad.)
USOpen.org: The US Open has historically been your strongest Grand Slam event. What is it about the tournament that consistently brings out your best, and how confident are you feeling going into this year?
Caroline Wozniacki: Oh, I love the US Open. It's one of my favorite tournaments of the year. The crowd is amazing. The tournament usually puts me on the big court, and even last year, when I was lower-ranked, I played in Arthur Ashe Stadium almost every single match except for one, where I played on Grandstand. I opened up the new Grandstand, which was very special. That means a lot to me and makes me feel at home there and feel welcome. I love playing in front of a big, loud crowd, and I love the energy. And I have an apartment there (in New York), so I feel like I can be home and sleep in my own bed, and that makes a big difference.