Australian Open tennis: Caroline Wozniacki relieved to banish semi-final ghost
By overcoming bitter memories of her 2011 loss to Li Na in the last four at the Australian Open tennis tournament, Caroline Wozniacki was able to reach the final.Updated: Jan 25, 2018 14:02 IST
Danish second seed Caroline Wozniacki believes she exorcised an Australian Open demon after overcoming Elise Mertens in straight sets to reach the final.
Former world number one Wozniacki squandered a match point in her previous semi-final appearance at Melbourne Park in 2011, when she was trumped by Li Na.
With that defeat still firmly in her memory, the 27-year-old managed to go one step further on Thursday with a 6-3 7-6 (7-2) victory over unseeded Belgian Mertens, despite letting a 5-3 lead slip in the second set.
Asked if she had banished a ghost, Wozniacki told reporters: “Yeah, it was nice. It was kind of like when I played in Toronto six times and I’d never won a match.
“That first-round match that I played in Toronto, I was nervous serving it out, even though I was up 6-2, 5-0. I was like, ‘Okay, I can do this’.
“When I won, something just disappeared. I said, ‘Okay, thankfully now I can actually win here’. Then I went all the way to the finals.
“I guess sometimes you just need to get through those hurdles.”
“I still have one match to go,” Wozniacki added. “I think it’s been a great two weeks so far. I’m really happy and proud of how I’ve managed to turn things around when things weren’t going my way and keep it up whenever it was going my way.
“I’m just excited. It’s another final. It’s another great two weeks. Regardless of what happens now, I’ve done my best. When you go out there on Saturday, you have everything to win.”
The ghost of 2011 threatened to derail Wozniacki, who went from 5-3 up to 6-5 down in the second set.
But Wozniacki composed herself to win the tie-break and reach a third slam final, her first in Melbourne.
“I think I was nervous,” Wozniacki said. “I didn’t do much wrong for the first three points of that game. I served two good serves, then I had that forehand down the line which I missed by a couple of millimetres. It was 30-15 instead of 40-Love. All of a sudden, yeah, it just turned around.
“But I managed to just gather myself and thankfully closed it out in the end.”
In her pursuit of a maiden major crown, having twice finished runner-up at the US Open, Wozniacki revealed she has turned to partner and former NBA champion David Lee for advice.
“I think having David there by my side, obviously he’s had an incredible career, played so many years, there’s always small things that he just tells me,” she said.
“I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, I never thought of that’. “He’s like, ‘Yeah, that actually helped me in a situation like this or that’.
“He’s so positive and so happy all the time. It’s great just to have that with you on your team.”