BNP Paribas Showdown

Li Na

Wozniacki wants critics to eat humble pie

Former world No 1 vows to stick to her game plan as she tries to climb up the rankings

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 February, 2013, 3:42am


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Caroline Wozniacki wants to go up to The Peak. It is one of the few things she hasn't ticked off on her Hong Kong checklist. It could also be her sub-conscious talking as she tries to climb back up the world rankings.

Around this time last year, Wozniacki was on top of the world. Despite not having won a grand slam title, Denmark's best-known tennis player was top of the WTA world rankings having ascended to the summit at the end of 2010 and then holding on to it for 67 weeks.

But then she plummeted down the list in 2012 to fall to No 10, her current position as she arrives in Hong Kong for the BNP Paribas Showdown exhibition against Li Na in eight days.

Falling from No 1 to 10 might be interpreted as a disaster but Wozniacki was quick to shoot that suggestion down in an interview with the Sunday Morning Post.

Question: "We would think that 2012 was a year to forget considering you went from No 1 to No 10. Was there any reason for that?"

Answer, from a possibly irate Wozniacki in Dubai: "To be honest, it's not a year I would like to forget. I think it is still a good year when I'm at No 10. A lot of players would still like to be in my position. I think it is difficult to understand that if you haven't played yourself, so there's a lot of attention and everyone wants to do well and do even better. But to be honest, I am very proud of the way I have played in the past five years where I have been in the top 10 for all of that time."Advantage Wozniacki.

She has been turning up in Hong Kong since 2007 when she first appeared at the Watsons Water Champions Challenge as a tall 16-year-old in the company of another blonde, Maria Sharapova. She has been a regular since, playing on a number of occasions in this "lively city where the shopping and the food is great". In recent times, she has accompanied her boyfriend, the world's No 1 golfer Rory McIlroy, whom she has been dating for the past 19 months.

But while McIlroy's career has taken off - last season he won the money list on both sides of the Atlantic, topping the order of merit titles on the US PGA Tour as well as the European Tour as he was crowned world No 1 - the same cannot be said of Wozniacki.

In 2012, the 22-year-old only managed to reach the quarter-finals at one grand slam, the Australian Open, and the Olympics, where she lost to eventual gold medallist Serena Williams. In her entire career, she has reached the final of a grand slam only once - the 2009 US Open. This year, she was knocked out in the fourth round at the Australian Open by Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Wozniacki reveals she hopes to draw inspiration from McIlroy, and Williams, who this week, at 31, became the oldest female to be ranked No 1.

"Obviously, Rory is number one and I hope to draw from his experience. It is also good to have that [a different view from another sport].

"But in terms of Serena, I think it is great. She is a champion and has won so many grand slam titles [15] and has had an amazing year so she definitely deserves to be world number one.

"This is an inspiration for it showed that she can fight back from her sickness and can come back. So it shows anything is possible," Wozniacki adds.

Time is on the side of Wozniacki, who insists she will stick to her game despite some critics believing a change to a more attack-oriented style would help her on the comeback trail.

"I have my base game and I know I can win with that so I would like to stick to what I know and what is working. But at the same time I will look to improve my game all the time," she said.

"It's a question of improving everything. Your opponents are improving so you need to improve as well so that they need to keep on finding a way to beat you."

And as for the question on everybody's lips - when will the high-profile power couple in sports announce their engagement - Wozniacki swats it away the way she would return a baseline shot. "No, we're not engaged but everything is good, thank you".