Reported by The Australian –
On New Year’s Eve, her golfer boyfriend Rory McIlroy, also a former world No 1, proposed against the background of Sydney Harbour’s annual fireworks extravaganza and presented her with what is reported to be a $250,000 diamond ring. They announced their engagement via Twitter the next morning.
Then Wozniacki turned her attention to this week’s Sydney International where she narrowly avoided a first round exit yesterday, winning in three sets from lucky loser Julia Goerges in her first match of the new season.
For much of the first set Wozniacki played like a woman who hasn’t thought much about tennis lately.
She was far too passive early and Goerges was determined to take advantage of an unexpected second chance.
The German world No 73 withdrew mid-way through her last qualifying match for this tournament, citing an ankle injury, but gained entry to the tournament as a lucky loser when American Sloane Stephens withdrew.
She started impressively yesterday and took the first set 6-3 before the Danish sixth seed found her rhythm on serve and her range from the back of the court.
But Wozniacki was in control for the rest of the match winning the last two sets 6-2 6-4.
Wozniacki said she hadn’t lost focus on the season ahead in all the excitement and had worked harder than ever on her strength and conditioning in the off-season under new coach Thomas Hogstedt, formerly with Maria Sharapova.
He replaced Wozniacki’s former coach, her father Piotr, who has had an even more important duty to perform in recent weeks.
With her glittering engagement ring back in place on her finger after the match, Wozniacki revealed that McIlroy had taken the old-fashioned approach and sought her parents’ permission before he proposed to her.
“My parents knew. He had asked my parents for permission, like traditional, which was great” she said.
“I was very happy, they were very happy for me and his parents as well and everyone around us.
“It’s a special moment , a special time in our lives.”
Wozniacki said having a fellow professional athlete as her partner had significant advantages.
“Mostly it’s just that he understands how it is to be a professional athlete, all the expectations and all the ups and downs and how amazing it feels when you’re winning and tough it can be when you’re not. I think it’s great to have someone there who understands you and is always there to support you.”
Wozniacki said she was determined to start the year off right, off and on the court.
“I’m really pleased about the way I fought out there,” she said of the match with Goerges.
“Maybe it wasn’t the prettiest match, but I was fighting. It’s always tough in the beginning of the year.”
The Sydney International remained a minefield for the world’s best female players yesterday. One misstep and you’re gone, as former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic learned when she was dispatched in the first round.
There’s always carnage in the draw at Sydney Olympic Park.
The highest-ranked player rarely wins.
The combination of a small, elite field of players uncertain of each other’s progress after the off-season and desperate to find their own form just a week ahead of the first grand slam tournament of the year is a molotov cocktail that can blow up in anyone’s face in the early rounds.
It was the Russian Ekaterina Makarova who accounted for Jankovic, the fourth seed and former winner here, dominating 6-4 6-2.
There was an equally dangerous first-round meeting for the fifth seed Angelique Kerber.
And even worse for Kerber, she had surprisingly never beaten the lower-ranked Cibulkova, defeated in four previous meetings including last year’s semi-final, before she walked out on to court yesterday.
But she finally got her revenge, winning a hard-hitting match 7-6 7-5 to advance to an equally tricky second-round meeting with Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, who reached the quarter-finals in Brisbane last week before losing to world No 3 Maria Sharapova in three sets.