NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Caroline Wozniacki is happy to be back in Connecticut as she tries to re-establish herself as an elite player in women’s tennis.
The former No. 1 player in the world was in danger of falling out of the WTA’s top 10 before making it to the quarterfinals last week in Cincinnati.
She’s hoping to build on that momentum in New Haven, where she has won four of the last five titles. Her lone loss came when she was forced to withdraw from last year’s semifinals with a knee injury.
“I feel like I’m on the right track and I feel like I’m playing well, so right now that’s what I’m thinking about,” she said Sunday. “The U.S. Open is coming up as well, which is a tournament that I am looking very much forward to. I love it there. So, these two tournaments, hopefully, will be good for me.”
Wozniacki will play Monday against Shuai Peng of China.
The main draw got underway Sunday when Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-1.
Lisicki, from Germany, lost a 2-0 lead in the first set, but never trailed against the Frenchwoman and won the first five games of the second set, which was interrupted by a brief rain delay.
Lisicki, who was little known before Wimbledon, is one of the bigger names in this tournament.
“It’s been quite a change, going home and everyone on the streets knows who you are,” she said, “It is something different, but it’s been nice, because it shows that the hard work pays off.”
Just four of the top-10 players in the world are participating in the final tuneup before the U.S. Open. Top-seed Sara Errani is joined by Angelique Kerber, defending champion Petra Kvitova, and Wozniacki.
Marion Bartoli, who beat Lisicki for the Wimbledon title, would have been the fifth. But, she withdrew after announcing her retirement last week.
“She fulfilled her dream,” Lisicki said. “She wanted to win Wimbledon her entire life and she did that. So, I’m very happy for her.”
Wozniacki has a history that brings her back each year to New Haven, but many of her competitors are simply looking to get in a few more hard-court matches in before heading to the National Tennis Center, which is just 73 miles away.
“I love to compete, to play tournaments,” Errani said. “It will be a week to prepare for New York, practicing also, playing matches. Why not? If it’s going good you have more confidence. If it’s going bad, you go early to New York.”
The danger, of course, is that an injury could affect a player’s chances next week. Wozniacki, playing last year on a gimpy knee after her injury here, lost in the first round in New York.
She said that Bartoli’s retirement due to nagging injuries points to just how careful players need to be when putting together what can be a grueling tour schedule.
“That’s why you need really good recovery. You need good treatments and do a lot of fitness, because you need to protect your body from all that hammering that it gets,” Wozniacki said. “I always laugh about it now, because the day I wake up and nothing hurts, I should be a little bit scared. Because it might mean that I’m dead.”
The Danish star, who is just 23, hinted that she also might consider retirement after a few more years on tour.
But that doesn’t mean she’s ready for domesticity, quite yet. She laughed off recent comments from Hall of Fame golfer Gary Player, who wondered out loud if she was a good match for her golfer boyfriend Rory McIlroy, and suggested he needed to find “the right wife,” who would support his career.
“Back in the day, the woman was staying at home and cooking and cleaning and taking care of the kids,” she said. “But now, I think it’s just a little bit different. For me, I’m just doing what I love to do. I do something I’m good at, and I want to take advantage of that for the next few years that I’m still playing.”
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.