MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Caroline Wozniacki has played 40 matches at the Australian Open over 11 years but one encounter in particular still haunts her, the Dane said after reaching the semi-finals for the second time in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Wozniacki was riding high as top seed and world number one on her previous visit to the last four at Melbourne Park seven years ago when she blew a match point in the second set and went on to lose to China’s Li Na.
“It feels great to be back here in the semi-finals, it’s been a few years,” Wozniacki said after beating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-0 6-7(3) 6-2 in the quarter-finals.
“Last time I was in the semi-finals here, I had match point against Li Na. I lost it. That’s still haunting me till this day. So I’m hoping for a different result this time.
“I remember very well that match. I usually forget matches and I don’t remember playing certain people. I don’t remember a lot of things, but that one is one that I remember very well.
“I went back on the practice court. I never do that after going far in a tournament and losing after a tough battle. Just needed to get some frustration out.
“I went on a roll after that and won a bunch of tournaments in a row. At the same time it was still that one match that was still hurting.”
Wozniacki experienced the other side of the coin last week when she saved two match points and battled back from 5-1 down in the deciding set to beat Jana Fett in the second round.
“That was a crazy comeback. Now everything that I do is just a plus,” she added.
Seven years on from her previous semi-final and while Li has long retired with two major titles to her name, Wozniacki is still searching for her maiden grand slam crown.
As second seed, the 27-year-old will again be a strong favorite to reach the Melbourne Park final against young Belgian Elise Mertens, who Wozniacki beat in three sets in their one previous meeting.
“I have to serve well, return well, stay aggressive, make her move,” she said.
“She’s a great player, has been having a great year so far. She’s very talented, obviously had a very good tournament this week. It’s going to be very difficult. But I’m excited for the challenge and excited for playing the semi-finals.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by John O’Brien)