US Open comeback run shows Wozniacki 'on right track'

Caroline Wozniacki (ANGELA WEISS)
Caroline Wozniacki (ANGELA WEISS)

Caroline Wozniacki said she still believes she "can beat anyone on any given day" after her fairytale return to Grand Slam tennis ended Sunday in the last 16 of the US Open after defeat by Coco Gauff.

Former world number one Wozniacki, 33, gave 19-year-old title contender Gauff a run for her money in a clash of generations before sliding to a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 loss.

Wozniacki retired after the 2020 Australian Open to start a family, and the mother-of-two was playing just her third event since rejoining the tour in Montreal last month.

"I wanted to see with these three events that I came back and played this year, I wanted to see kind of where I was tennis-wise, where I was physically and everything else. I think I've learned a lot from that," said Wozniacki.

"I think I'm exactly where I want to be. There's still a few things that I want to work on and I can do better. But in general I think it's very positive.

"I think every event that I played, I played a little better. Every match I played here, I played a little bit better each time. A lot of positives I can bring with me."

Wozniacki was handed a wild card into this year's US Open, arriving in New York ranked a lowly 623.

She will soar back inside the top 250 after the tournament after notably claiming the scalp of 11th seed and two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova in the second round.

Wozniacki has given no indication how long she intends to play on in her comeback, the second act of a career that began in 2005 when Sunday's opponent Gauff was just one.

- Encouraging return -

She said earlier this week she was just "really enjoying this moment", thriving on the adrenaline rush of performing on the biggest stage.

"I think my experience makes me believe that even if I'm not playing week in, week out, that I can still go out there and play my best tennis when I'm out there on court," said Wozniacki.

"I am encouraged. I think my game is pretty good. I think that I can beat anyone on any given day. I also believe if I'm not playing my best, I can also lose today.

"There's a lot of positives to take with me going forward. I'm on the right track. I'm finding my form, I'm finding my feet. I know what I'm doing on the practice court is the right thing.

"So I'm excited to take on more events, more players out there."

Wozniacki knows better than most about dealing with expectations at a young age, having reached the first of two US Open finals as a teenager 14 years ago.

Gauff now finds herself in those shoes as she dreams of continuing 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams' legacy, but Wozniacki insists there shouldn't be undue pressure placed on her.

"I think she's always been a great athlete, she's always had the backhand, the serve, the fighting spirit. I feel like right now it's all kind of coming together for her," said Wozniacki.

"Just because your first tournament win is a Grand Slam doesn't mean that you're going to have an absolutely all-star career later on, or just because you win quickly or you win late, it doesn't really define who you are.

"At the end of the day everyone has their own path. Obviously Coco is doing well. She came on tour very young. There were a lot of eyes on her immediately. With that comes expectation, everything else.

"But she has a great team around her. She is a hard worker. She's a great athlete. When her time comes, it's going to come."