SINGAPORE - Caroline Wozniacki capped off one of the best seasons of her career by winning the biggest title of her career on Sunday at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. The 27-year-old former No.1 began the season ranked No.19 and will close out the 2017 season by winning her second title out of eight finals and will end the year ranked World No.3.
Wozniacki sat down on the WTA Insider Podcast to reflect on her dramatic wins over Venus Willliams and Karolina Pliskova over the weekend, her 16-month recover from being ranked No.74 ahead of the 2016 US Open to a return to consistency in 2017, and why she takes great pride in bringing the pain whenever an opponent steps on court.
Hear Caroline Wozniacki on the Champions Corner from Singapore below:
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WTA Insider: How does it feel to win the biggest title of your career in Singapore?
Wozniacki: It feels amazing. Last time I played in Singapore here already I played some great tennis, some of the best of my career. To come back and play so good again feels amazing. Obviously it's a very special place for me.
WTA Insider: Your serve has been outstanding all week and you've led in nearly every key statistical category. Have you made any specific changes to that shot?
Wozniacki: Honestly, I think sometimes it's just a little bit of the timing and once you get the confidence it gets on a roll. I think for me it's a thing that throughout my career it's been kind of up and down. But especially playing indoors, no wind, no sun, I think that really helped me. I started out serving well this week and then it just kind of went from there.
WTA Insider: You've had two sticky matches over the weekend, beating Karolina Pliskova in the semifinals in an 82-minute rollercoaster first set, and then fending off Venus in the final after leading 5-0 in the second. How did you get out of those matches? Was it confidence or experience that got you through?
Wozniacki: I think it's a combination of those and a bit of luck as well. Yesterday I had a tough one against Karolina and I got a little bit lucky that she didn't convert the first couple of set points. Obviously, I had a big lead in the tiebreaker and I blew that with her stepping it up. Then it could have gone either way. I just kept focused and just kept trying to think just stay aggressive and keep doing what your' doing, you're doing well, and it paid off.
Today, again, 5-0 in the second set and I was like Ok, I've been here before. Yesterday I had the tiebreaker, which was only five balls, now I have five games. Yeah, that got a little bit tight in the end. I definitely didn't find it funny at 5-4 in the second set, I was like oh gosh, just finish it off now. I was also hoping she was going to help me a little bit. It was just a combination of staying positive and being lucky.
WTA Insider: You had that great finish to the 2014 season, playing well here. Then 2015 was so frustrating for you because the body was just breaking down. Can you put yourself back into your shoes at that time? This is one of your best seasons, statistically. Did this feel far off?
Wozniacki: Well at the time, for sure. I didn't know if my body was going to keep breaking down or what was going to happen. I just had to call my season and sit down and think about what I need to do and what I need to improve. I always know I had this in me. Once you've been there before you know what it takes. It takes a lot of work, a lot of belief to be here today.
Definitely my injury last year was a big key from this. I got to take a break and I was old enough to say it doesn't really matter. If my ranking falls down because I have a break it's ok, but at least if I'm physically fit and I can really work on a few things then eventually it will click and I can give myself a chance to get back up to where I want to be. It's been a great year this year and I'm really proud of that.
WTA Insider: You're only 27, but it feels like you've been on tour for a very long time. How does maturity manifest itself for you on court?
Wozniacki: Definitely by not stressing about anything. I just go with the flow and I enjoy it more. When you're younger you don't know if you're ever going to be in this situation again. Is it luck? What is it? Now, I've been there before and I'm just enjoying every single moment of it. Because you never know how long you're going to play, or if you're going to get hurt tomorrow, or if you're just tired and you don't want to play anymore. I just really enjoyed this season and I've been healthy, and I think that's been really key.
For me, the biggest thing was when I lost the first six finals of the year I didn't let it really put me down. I looked at the positive and said I put myself in contention almost every week and eventually it will have to turn. If you keep putting yourself in positions to win, eventually you will. I won the last two finals and it feels amazing.
WTA Insider: You achieved a lot of milestones this year. What are you most proud of?
Wozniacki: It was the first time I beat a No.1 player and I did that three times, so that's something I'm proud of. I'm really proud of my consistent year. I think this is, if not the best year of my career, it's really high up there. Finishing No.1 was a highlight but this is probably most finals I've made in a year and I think I'm really proud of that. I finished the year at No.3 and I'm really happy with that. I'm just happy how I managed to play at a high level all the time.
WTA Insider: There have been nine different winners of the nine biggest tournaments this year, with you becoming the ninth by winning the finals. What do you make of the 2017 season?
Wozniacki: I don't know. I actually haven't thought of that. Obviously, I think I've been in so many finals this year and it may have been really different if I won one match more here or there. Honestly, from myself, it's been a great year and I think it's been one of the best years of my career.
WTA Insider: What do you consider your best win this week in Singapore?
Wozniacki: I think today sticks out because it was the final and it was very special. And I think yesterday stuck out because of the first set. That was crazy and I think that's something tennis needs and it makes it fun to watch. It definitely gives myself and my team heart attacks, but other than that, those are the fun matches to play.
WTA Insider: How much joy do you take in your ability to get into player's heads in a way that a lot of players don't. The physicality and the speed you bring, they know within the first few games it's going to be a tough day. Do you take pride in that?
Wozniacki: Oh definitely. I think that's one of the things that I take the most pride out in. I know it too, and I know once we start a match and I feel good and we have long rallies, I know that the opponent is thinking 'I need to get out of this somehow or it's going to be a long day.' For me, if it's a long day, it's a good day. So I take pride in that and I'm proud of the way my fitness has helped me throughout my career.