26 Sep 2023

Former world number one back for eighth crack at ASB Tennis Classic

2:25 pm on 26 September 2023
Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki.

Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki will return to Auckland in 2024. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Former world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki will continue her tennis comeback at the ASB Classic in January.

It will be the eighth time the Danish star has played in the Auckland tournament.

Wozniacki was last at the tournament in 2020 - the same year she retired from tennis with 30 singles titles to her name and a total of 17 months as the best player in the world.

During her time away from the game Wozniacki gave birth to her daughter Olivia in 2021 and son James in 2022.

The 33-year-old returned to professional tennis in early August and surprised many with her run at the recent US Open, where she lost to eventual winner and returning ASB Classic champion, Coco Gauff in the fourth round.

Wozniacki has been impressed with how she has handled the return to the top level.

"I kinda knew what I had to do to compete against the best players in the world, but it's always different when you are on the court and actually have to do it. It's one thing seeing it from the outside it's much easier in my head to do the big rallies and to say what I was suppose to do in the moment but it is a completely different thing when you have to do it on the court but I was very pleased and proud of the way that I managed to compete after so long away from the game and it's not easy to come back and play points at such a high level and play back-to-back.

"I think I did very well it was a great start to my comeback and it definitely gave me a lot of positive information on what I need to do better for the start of the next season and to go even further in the next few tournaments."

Wozniacki's return to Auckland coincides with her desire to win a second Australian Open grand slam title in 2024 and she see the ASB Classic as good preparation.

"When I won the Australian Open [in 2018] I played well in Auckland and I think it is a good omen for me."

After coming so close before Wozniacki wants to win the ASB Classic this time.

She finished as runner-up to Venus Williams in 2015 and Julia Goerges in 2018, along with semifinal loses to Jessica Pegula 2020 and Sloane Stephens in 2016.

The last time Wozniacki played at the ASB Classic, Gauff was also in the draw as a 16-year-old who lost in the round of 16.

Since Wozniacki has been away women's tennis and tennis in general has moved on but some things will be familiar to her in Auckland.

"Every time you get to a tournament every year you see improvements, every year you are seeing young players who are coming up that are hungry to play better and crawl up the rankings and have worked hard their whole lives to get this opportunity so there's definitely a lot of young players who are playing really well and it is exciting to see and I think it is great for tennis."

Times and technology have changed since 2020, Covid ruled out players being handed towels by ball kids - something Wozniacki said she had to get used to - and she also had to become accustomed to the US Open not having line people, opting for electronic calls instead.

ASB Classic Tournament Director Nicolas Lamperin

ASB Classic Tournament Director Nicolas Lamperin Photo: PHOTOSPORT

ASB Classic tournament director Nico Lamperin assured her there would be line umpires at the ASB Tennis Arena for the next tournament.

"Caroline is an extraordinary woman who is such a remarkable role model as a professional tennis player and person, and now showing that motherhood is no barrier," Lamperin said.

"After watching her play in New York, I know that Caroline will be a genuine contender here."

Lamperin said he is excited to have both Gauff and Wozniacki in the line-up for the women's competition, and is in discussions with other players which he hoped to announce in the coming weeks.