DUBAI, UAE - Caroline Wozniacki is only 26 years old - so she was taken by surprise to hear her quarterfinal opponent at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships say she had admired her since childhood.
"Both [Agnieszka] Radwanska and Wozniacki have been, you know, my idols since I was really young and watched them play on the TV since I was five years old," revealed 17-year-old CiCi Bellis after beating the Pole 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
Wozniacki's win over Kateryna Bondarenko, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, set up a clash between the current WTA World No.15 and her teenage admirer.
"Obviously we have been on tour for so long and played so many matches and been on TV for a lot of years," said the Dane. "I think sometimes you just don't realize how young these girls are that are coming up.
"But we were one of them, too. Aga and I were both really young when we broke through. You know, it's my 12th year on tour now, so, you know, we have been here for a while - although I still feel young at heart."
Wozniacki reminisced about her own time as a teenager breaking through - and those senior stateswomen of the game who welcomed her
"Someone like Kim Clijsters was always nice," she recalled. "Venus was one of the first ones, as well. She asked me to play doubles with her in Qatar, actually, when I was 17. So that was huge for me. And then Serena was really nice.
"I'm not saying everybody, but I think the older players back in the day really appreciated us having that respect towards them. Not on the court, obviously. We wanted to win. But we were always very respectful of them and their achievements at the same time we were fighters and competitors."
That means that Wozniacki will not be taking the young American lightly.
"I think she obviously tries to dictate with the forehand," she said. "You know, it's a player with a lot of energy. I just need to be out there and just show my presence - and try and stay aggressive."