Former world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki celebrated a victory on her comeback from retirement, beating Australian qualifier Kimberly Birrell 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the Canadian Open, as she returned to the Tour after more than three years.
Playing on Tour for the first time since the 2020 Australian Open, the 33-year-old used her speed, defense and backhand prowess to win the match, wrapping it up in just over one and a half hours.
Up next the Dane has a challenging second-round match, where will she face the reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova.
Wozniacki said she was happy with her result in the opening round of the WTA 1000 event in Montreal.
“Just it was fun to be out there again playing on center court in front of a big crowd. I’m just thrilled that I could win my first match in three and a half years,” Wozniacki said after her win.
Wozniacki retired after her third-loss defeat to Ons Jabeur at the Australian Open in 2020, saying that she was stepping away from tennis to start a family with her husband, former NBA player David Lee. She has since had a daughter Olivia and a son James.
The ninth seed she was excited to play in front of her family.
“As a 33-year-old that has played on Tour for many years, and doing it with my kids that now, especially the older one is starting to really understand and gets to really experience the world and different countries, I think it’s so cool,” Wozniacki said.
Before the match, Wozniacki said that she was not worried about her comeback.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest,” Wozniacki said. “You have all these things in your head that this is how you’re supposed to be playing and you’re supposed to be doing this and that, but to be honest, I had no idea what I was going to come up with when I was out on court because I just haven’t played a real match in so long.
“It was all about not getting down on myself if I made a mistake and not get too excited when I hit a good shot. So it was just kind of evening out those emotions. I think everything taken into consideration, I’m very happy with how I played today and how I got through.”
Wozniacki is playing in Montreal and hopes to be at her peak at the U.S. Open, the final Grand Slam of the year which begins on August 28. The United States Tennis Association has awarded her a wildcard for the major, where she is a two-time finalist. Her ultimate goal is to play at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Wozniacki knows that Vondrousova will be a tough opponent. Last month, the Czech became the first unseeded Wimbledon women’s singles champion when she defeated Jabeur 6-4, 6-4 in the final.
“Marketa has obviously been on fire,” Wozniacki said. “Played incredibly well at Wimbledon. Got out of some tough situations there along the way, but then really kept her nerves cool in the finals.
“Obviously a tough opponent, a lefty. That’s never easy to play a lefty with the ball going the other way. But, you know what, I have nothing to lose. I’m going to go out there and have fun regardless and see what happens.”
According to the WTA website, if Wozniacki wins the title in Montreal, she would become the third female player in the Open Era to win this event multiple times with over a decade between their earliest and most recent titles, along with Chris Evert (four titles between 1974 and 1985) and Serena Williams (three titles between 2001 and 2013).
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