August 13, 2012
Hometown showing gives Wozniak a big boost
By JEAN-FRANCOIS CHAUMONT, QMI Agency
MONTREAL - Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak has battled injuries and discouragement to return to elite-level tennis.
Her first-ever quarterfinal at the Rogers Cup has breathed new life into her career, and she'll crack the top-50 ranking this week for the first time since 2009.
"I feel like I'm back on track," said Wozniak, who lost Saturday to world No. 8 Caroline Wozniacki. "I missed 10 months of tennis, from July 2010 to April 2011, because of tendinitis in my right arm and I had really slipped in the standings. It was discouraging not to be in the top 100."
Her appearance in the quarterfinals of her home tournament was historic, since a Canadian woman hadn't advanced as far in the event since 1992.
But Wozniak says she isn't satisfied.
"I want to beat my best career ranking, which was 21st in 2009," said the native of Blainville, Que., north of Montreal.
"I feel I am really close to my level of 2009. I can finish my matches and I managed to battle against the best."
She won her ninth career title in March at the Nassau Challenger in the Bahamas and was on the verge of beating seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams in Miami before losing in a third-set tiebreak.
The 24-year-old Canadian also reached the third round of the French Open this year and battled world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka before bowing out 6-4, 6-4. It was the fourth time in the past five years that Wozniak made it to the third round at Roland Garros.
In Montreal, buoyed by the hometown crowd, she showed that she could battle the world's best toppling three higher-ranked players: Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova (35th), former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic (now 18th) and American Christina McHale (26th).
"It was really a great week for me, I was so happy to do it in front of my family and my friends at my favourite tournament," Wozniak said.
"I hope this result will give me a good dose of confidence by the end of the year."
She plans to play at a minor tournament in Dallas next week, prior to the U.S. Open.
While most 24-year-olds are just deciding what to do with their lives, Wozniak is already approaching tennis middle age in a sport where it's not unusual to see 16-year-olds on the tour.
But Wozniak says she feels fresh, is still learning, and hasn't yet played her best tennis.
"I'm still young," she said. "I can learn from players like Australian Samantha Stosur and China's Li Na who have experienced breakthroughs late in their careers. I'll treasure my health. When you're healthy, nothing is impossible."