Caroline Wozniacki made a triumphant return to tennis after a three-and-a-half-year absence from the National Bank Open, defeating Kimberly Birrell, who was in the Australian qualifier, 6-2, 6-2 to win the first match of his comeback.
“Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect,” admits Wozniacki, the 2010 Montreal winner.
“You know you have all this in your head that this is how you have to play and you have to do this and that, but to be honest I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’m in because I haven’t played a real game for a long time.
“For me, it’s about not getting frustrated if I make a mistake and not getting too excited when I take a good shot. So it was just a night for those feelings.
“I think overall, I’m very happy with the way I played today and the way I played. It’s not easy to win a game, and it certainly won’t be easy if you haven’t played a game in a long time.”
Formerly world No. 1, Wozniacki retired from tennis after the 2020 Australian Open, and has spent his spare time developing his professional and personal life, raising two children and becoming a sought-after tennis analyst.
“It’s funny because I just look at the clock and my kids are taking a nap, which is cool. I’ll pick them up after treatment and feeding, but that’s the advantage of playing early: I still have an afternoon with them! ”
After an impressive performance at the legendary Roland Garros Doubles event in June, the 33-year-old shocked the tennis world when he announced his comeback in a poignant commentary for Vogue.
“How long can I play at the highest level – a year, two years, three years?” I wondered at the time.
“I don’t know. But I do know that in five years, when the children go to school, it will be too late. I’m not going to make bold predictions, but if I didn’t believe in myself, I wouldn’t do this: I’m very competitive and don’t feel like I’m going to be one of the best. There-in.”
3 years, 8 Months, 2 kids later! We are back baby!! Feels good to get the W today! 💪🏻
— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) August 8, 2023
Her journey to prove it began on Tuesday against Pearl, who won two qualifying matches for a place in the main draw for Montreal, and was the latest of the two when she broke serve on the first serve.
“It’s like riding a bike,” Wozniacki says. “You know, you never forget that once you get there, but it’s different at the same time. When you play with big goals or when you see holes you get really excited, and then you can’t clean it up, I’m like, well, I have to start over in rally”.
Wozniacki will show her comeback more clearly than ever in the first set, going straight from behind and not giving Birrell a serve as she cruises through six of the next seven games with help from classic defense and counter reaction.
The second set proved just as momentous as Wozniacki continued to turn back the clock, hitting a sharp forehand in the fifth game and prevailing over Pearl in the sixth game to score a decisive break of serve.
Playing clutch tennis on key points, the 2018 Australian Open champion took the match after saving a break point, causing Birrell to foul his forehand. She converted a first match point with a stinging backhand down the line, sending a clear message to the early game that she was going to be the one to watch.
“When I’m on the field, I’m there 100%. I give it all. When I’m with my kids, it’s because I’m doing what I have to do on the field and I’m 100% focused on my kids. I do not have phone. I don’t do anything else. I’m there with them. It went really well and I think it gives me a different perspective on life and I love that. I love being a parent. I love being a mother. It is the most beautiful gift.
“So I try to enjoy every moment because kids grow up so fast. he’s crazy “.
Wimbledon reigning champion Marketa Vondrousova can wait for Wozniacki in the next round: she will face ninth seed Egyptian Mayar Sherif later today.
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