(September 1, 2023) FLUSHING, NY – Three years ago Caroline Wozniacki had retired from the game, thinking that she would never return. Now in 2023, two children later, the Dane is back and competing at a high level. On Wednesday, she beat No. 11 Petra Kvitova in straight sets.
On Friday the 33-year-old advanced to her first round of 16 at the US Open in five years, by winning 12 out of the last 14 games with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 over American Jennifer Brady, recently back on tour after suffering from a knee injury for two years.
This was just Brady’s fourth event since returning to the tour. She’s a 2020 semifinalist at the US Open and a 2021 Australian Open finalist.
After taking a set and a break lead, the 27-year-old American Brady looked as though she ran out of gas.
“I came out, I played a really good first set and two games. Then she sort of adjusted her game and she started doing what I was doing to her but the opposite.
“Playing really smart and kind of just me having lack of matches, not really being able to train the way that I would have liked to. Maybe physically just not being able to maintain that level that I had in the first set.
“I mean, I would have loved to keep the intensity up. Over time, I just felt the legs were getting a little bit heavier. She was starting to break me down there, just making a few extra balls. My ball just didn’t have the same heaviness or impact that it did in the first set.”
“I thought it was a great match,” Wozniacki said to media. “I think it’s as the match progressed, I played better and better. She came out and played really well and aggressive, went for her forehand. I missed a few kind of lay-up backhands, that was a little frustrating for me. But then when I was down 2-Love in the second, I just decided I’m not going to miss any more, I’m going to start moving my feet even better, go for my shots.”
“Slowly I started chipping away, it started going my way. I felt like the momentum kind of shifted a little bit, then I could see she was starting to get a little tired as well when we had the long rallies. I was excited for that.”
Brady said that Wozniacki broke her down her game.
Wozniacki agreed. “I think both my forehand and backhand are good shots. My serve, I feel like I’ve won some free points, but also the placement is more important than power for me.
“I think I felt physically great. It’s my first three-set match in the comeback. I feel great about it. My body feels perfect, knock on wood. That’s a big step for me, as well, because you never know how your body’s going to react after so many years away from the game, then playing a long match.
“I felt good. I felt like I could be out there for another few sets, if I had to.”
‘”Yeah, obviously I would have liked to get the win today to be in the second week of the US Open, but unfortunately that didn’t happen” said Brady.
“I mean, I think everybody’s been talking about it, my comeback, just me not knowing when I would play again, just being away for about two years and being able to come back here and make the third round in the US Open, give myself chances to make the fourth round.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s exciting to be back in this position, to be back here competing again, playing on Arthur Ashe. Yeah, I mean, I gave myself some chances, but there’s still a lot for me to work on, which is also a positive.”
Brady talked to media about what she needs to work on all the court since she’s back on tour.
“As of now, I mean, I’ve signed up for a few tournaments. That’s something that I’ll have to decide what tournaments I’m going to play. Right now I’m entered in Guadalajara a couple weeks from now.
“I think there’s a lot that I can work on, a lot of things that I can improve on. My first-serve percentage, I mean, when I’m in control of points to finish points at net, approach shots, short balls, being able to move my backhand around the court, just get fitter, stronger, up my physicality. I can go on and on.
“There’s a lot of things I can get better. To be where I am is something that is also — you can look at it as a positive because I’m competing out here, I’m giving myself an opportunity, things are looking pretty good, and there’s still a lot that I feel can get a lot better.”
“For me, coming back now, I don’t know how long I’m going to play,” Wozniacki said. “I get that question all the time. Am I going to play one year? Am I going to play five years? I have no idea.
“All I know right now is that I’m really enjoying this moment. To be able to play on these big courts in front of a big crowd, it’s something very special and something that I will never take for granted, something I’ll always appreciate.”
The former No. 1 from 2010-11, Wozniacki is now 41-13 at the US Open, her best major.