Wozniacki stops rot with Aussie Open win

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Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark celebrates her victory over Arina Rodionova of Australia in their women’s singles match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST /

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki finally stopped the rot by winning her first-round match at the Australian Open Tuesday, breaking a depressing downward slide at the first Grand Slam of the year.

The Dane made the semis in 2011 but she has regressed one stage each year, exiting in the quarter-finals in 2012, then the fourth round, all the way to a first-round departure 12 months ago.

“I already made a big step just coming here,” she joked, after winning her first-round clash against Australia’s Arina Rodionova 6-1, 6-2 on Hisense Arena.

“So, you know, my trend has been semis, quarters, fourth, third, second, first round, and then, according to my trend, I should have been in the third-round quallies (qualifiers).

“Thankfully that did not happen and I’m going in the right direction. It’s nice to be here.”

Since this time last year, Wozniacki has put her injury struggles aside and enjoyed a resurgence, including a run to the US Open semi-finals and her first tournament victory since February 2015 at Tokyo.

Seeded 17 in Melbourne, she said she hadn’t lost any of her desire to compete.

“Lifting trophies and competing is what I love. Obviously, training, I’ve hit a million balls over my life,” she said.

“But I think the competing is what drives me. Obviously I love to win, that’s what I train for.”

With Croatia’s Donna Vekic next up ahead of a potential third round clash with in-form world number nine Johanna Konta, Wozniacki said her fitness could be key to her success moving forward.

“I know I’m fit and I know that I’m probably one of the fittest players on tour. That’s what I’m known for. That’s what I aim for,” said the 26-year-old, who is yet to win a Grand Slam.

“I know if I’m struggling, if I feel like it’s hot, I know the opponent will feel the same or worse. So at least that keeps me going and makes me feel better.”

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