“Once a competitor, always a competitor” – Wozniacki back in the Grand Slam groove

The former world No 1 has won her first Grand Slam match since retiring in January 2020 – at the first time of asking

Caroline Wozniacki, US Open, 2023 Caroline Wozniacki on media day at the US Open 2023 Zuma / Panoramic

Much has changed since January 2020. But Caroline Wozniacki winning Grand Slam tennis matches is not one of them.

It has been more than three-and-a-half years since the former world No 1 played a match at a major, losing an emotional encounter with Ons Jabeur at the Australian Open in what we all thought – Wozniacki included – was the Dane’s final appearance on a competitive match court.

But Caroline Wozniacki had unfinished business.

Fast forward to August 2023, on a humid night in New York City, and the former Australian Open champion is back to winning Grand Slam matches with a straightforward win over Russia’s Prozorova.

“All in all I’m going to be thrilled with a win today,” Wozniacki said in her late-night post-match press conference.

“Playing on Armstrong is special. Playing a night session. Obviously I was a little nervous going out there and finishing off the match.

“Again, just thrilled to be through in an exciting match. Get another one out there.”

Old rivalry with Petra Kvitova set to be reignited in next round

Wozniacki will next face Petra Kvitova, in a match that will reignite one of the great WTA rivalries of recent times.

It will be their 15th meeting, with the Czech narrowly leading their head-to-head 8-6. Wozniacki is relishing the prospect of picking up where the two left off.

“I know exactly what I need to do. I know where my game needs to be at to beat Petra,” the Dane said when asked about facing her old rival Kvitova.

Caroline Wozniacki US Open 2023
Caroline Wozniacki returns to winning ways at US Open 2023 Image Credit: Zuma _ Panoramic

“There’s definitely a calmness to knowing that. At the same time I’m playing someone who obviously plays very well.

” I think I beat her in the year-end championships last time we played. Then we played a crazy match in Doha, as well, that I lost.

“There’s a couple that stand out. One that I lost bad to her at Wimbledon where I think she won the tournament, but she was on fire.

“There was I think one that stands out is Beijing. I beat her to get my No. 1 ranking, which that was very special.

“So, yeah, some back and forth, for sure. Again, it could be anything in the next round, but I’m so excited to play her.”

Fire still burning bright in Wozniacki

After more than three years out of the game, having had two children and embarking on other ventures that interested her outside of tennis, there were valid question marks around the level of desire and fight Wozniacki could find to get back to the very top of the sport.

Anyone watching her dispatch Prozorova under the lights on Arthur Ashe, however, will see that these questions have been answered.

“Once a competitor, always a competitor,” Wozniacki said in the aftermath of her first-round win.

Unluckily for Kvitova and the rest of the field, it appears this rings very true.

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