MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki joined the WTA Insider Podcast after her phenomenal run to the Australian Open title, where she edged Simona Halep 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-4 in a thrilling Australian Open final. The win assured a return to the No.1 ranking for Wozniacki six years after she last relinquished it, and added a maiden major title to her already Hall of Fame-worthy career.
Wozniacki discusses how she overcame her pre-match nerves, how she rebounded from the doubts that plagued her two years ago, and she reveals the last words she heard before she walked on court.
Listen to an exhausted and somewhat speechless Wozniacki below:
WTA Insider: Australian Open champion, first major title, back to World No.1 on Monday, and most likely a future Hall of Fame pick. This was a big day for you.
Wozniacki: It was a huge day for me. Getting my first Grand Slam, getting to No.1, I think I'm still speechless. It's an amazing feeling. I have my trophy Daphne here with me and she looks so pretty. I'm just very emotional.
WTA Insider: It was an incredible battle out there. Social media was going crazy throughout the match. When you're in that match, is there any sense of the occasion of it all?
Wozniacki: I was nervous going into the match. I knew what was at stake. I was like you know what? Have fun with this. Enjoy the moment. I played very aggressively. I think we both played great tennis. I wasn't comfortable at any point because I knew that she's such a great fighter and she was playing amazing tennis as well. Even until the last point, I didn't know who's going to win this match but I know I have an opportunity right now, I know I have a chance.
I think winning it this way makes it obviously extremely special because we both grinded it out so hard. Yeah, I'm here and I'm Australian Open champion.
WTA Insider: Everyone thought it would happen in New York. That's been your best Slam and you made two finals there. Why do you think it happened here in Australia?
Wozniacki: I don't know, I guess it was just meant to be. I think the court surface slowed down a little bit compared to the last couple of years. I think it was very similar to the US Open this year. And I got a little lucky in the second round and now I'm here.
But I think also having such a great support system behind me made such a big difference. Just like you, I thought the US Open was going to be the one. Now I can go to the US Open with a Grand Slam in my pocket and that feels amazing.
WTA Insider: Does this all feel like how you thought it would feel?
Wozniacki: I think the moment I won felt exactly the way I thought it was going to feel. It was very emotional. Right now, since the moment I left the court there's been so many things happening at the same time. I don't think until I get home or to my hotel room tonight I won't really have processed everything. I'm still processing and I think it will feel amazing when I wake up tomorrow and I realize this is actually not a dream and that it actually happened.
WTA Insider: What were the last words said to you before you walked out on court tonight?
Wozniacki: My dad said I'm really proud of you regardless of what happens tonight. I'm really proud of you and just go out there and show your heart and give it all you got. I'll be here regardless, win or lose.
WTA Insider: You've spoken a lot about the nerves you felt heading into this match. How did you deal with them?
Wozniacki: I think (her fiancé) David was around me most of the day. He really calmed me down. He just said take this as an opportunity, don't think about too much else. Be in the present and have fun with it. He was like I know it's easy to say but at the same time just step out there and fight your heart out and that's all you can do. He made sure I could really calm myself enough to get some good sleep and rest throughout the day.
WTA Insider: Looking back, when you were dealing with all the injuries in 2015 and 2016, was that the most adversity you'd faced in your career?
Wozniacki: Yeah, it definitely was. I started to doubt whether my body could hold up for long periods of time. But you live and you learn and I learned to do my fitness a different way, to scale down a little bit. Sometimes you get doubt but I've had great team support and people behind the scenes who always believed in me and they made me believe in myself too.
WTA Insider: When were the doubts the loudest?
Wozniacki: I think before the Olympics, I felt great. I was hitting the ball so great in practice and I was beating everyone in practice. I came back to play in Washington and I hurt my arm again. Now it's not my foot, now it's my arm. Is it going to be a mean circle? Because I really took extra time with my ankle to make sure I fixed my knee and fixed my ankle problems and my back, and then coming back and something new came up, I was like gosh, is this just going to keep continuing?
Then the US Open came (then ranked No.74, Wozniacki made the semifinals) and I had a good Asian swing and a great last year.
WTA Insider: You've been doing the media rounds for the last few hours. What's the one thing you really want to do right now?
Wozniacki: I just want to celebrate this moment with my family and I want to have time to really process everything.