Caroline Wozniacki: The world at her feet, but there's one frontier to cross

Great Dane is fed up with being asked whether she deserves to be the world No 1 – she just wants to win her first Grand Slam, starting in Paris today. Paul Newman meets Caroline Wozniacki

Imagine the conversation as the neighbours meet outside their front doors. "Hi, good to see you. I noticed you won yet again last week. You're obviously the best player in the world right now."

"Well that's kind of you to say that. You also won, didn't you? So do you enjoy being world No 1?"

The residents of Monte Carlo have become accustomed to living cheek-by-jowl with celebrities, but it is still remarkable that the world's best female tennis player and her male counterpart are next-door neighbours. Caroline Wozniacki, the world No 1, and Novak Djokovic, unbeaten in 2011 and the game's best player on current form, are good friends too.

"We see each other quite a bit," Wozniacki said. "We've been teasing each other. I think I've had a very good season so far, but as I look over my shoulder I see him and he hasn't lost a match yet. I tell him: 'I'm trying to keep up with you, but it's not easy.' He says: 'But you're the No 1 and I'm not yet.' I'm like: 'Yeah, but if you keep up this work you will be soon'."

While the world rankings say that Wozniacki is No 1, the 20-year-old Dane knows she has work to do if she is to be viewed in the same light as her neighbour. Forget Djokovic's remarkable 39-match winning run: this is all about the Serb's two Grand Slam titles.

Wozniacki, who has yet to make her Grand Slam breakthrough, is so used to being asked about whether she deserves to be world No 1 that she began a press conference at this year's Australian Open by answering the question before it was even put to her.

As she sets out on her latest mission at this week's French Open, it is clear that the subject bores rather than irritates her. "My main targets this year are the Grand Slams," she said. "I'd like to win one, but it's not a catastrophe if I don't. I'm just enjoying being on the circuit and playing."

At least going home to Monte Carlo offers an escape from the questions. "I like being able to wake up in the morning, go down to the grocery store, just put my hair up, put some jogging clothes on and nobody really notices," she said. "I think people know who I am but everybody does their own thing there."

It would be wrong to suggest Wozniacki is uncomfortable with her fame. Chosen by Stella McCartney to be the public face of the designer's range of sportswear, she clearly enjoys her lifestyle and the opportunities it brings. She is not the sort to spend all her time on tour either on the tennis court or at a hotel. When in Los Angeles she took the chance to call in on David Beckham – Wozniacki's father played football for Poland and she is a big Liverpool fan – and in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year she met up with Sergio Garcia at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Not that Wozniacki is interested only in celebrities. In Thailand last year she took time out to visit a Buddhist temple. "We went to feed the monks. It's a tradition. You go at 6.40 in the morning, just at sunrise, go on the beach and the monks come. You give them some rice and some water. It should bring you good luck. I had to get up very early but it was a great experience.

"I think it's important to see the cities and the countries where you are. I enjoy it. If it's just the tennis and the hotel you could be anywhere. For me it's very important to experience different cultures, to meet new people. I feel very privileged to be able to play the sport that I love – and to be good at it – and travel to these amazing countries."

She is a good linguist. Polish was her first language, her parents having moved when her father joined a Danish club in the late 1980s, but she was brought up as a Dane. She learned French and English at school, family holidays helped her to understand Russian and she has been teaching herself Spanish.

Her career so far has been a complete contrast to that of her predecessor as world No 1, Serena Williams, who usually turns up the volume at Grand Slam events but makes little noise for the rest of the year. Wozniacki played more matches (79) than any other player on the tour last year, winning six titles.

The Grand Slam will surely come. She lost to Kim Clijsters at the 2009 US Open in her only final but has since reached two semi-finals. In Melbourne earlier this year she had a match point to reach the final but lost to Li Na. She admitted it took a while to recover from that – "I didn't put tennis on the TV afterwards and it was only after four or five days back on the practice court that I felt OK" – though she bounced back in typical fashion by winning three of her next five tournaments, in Dubai, Indian Wells and Charleston.

The critics say Wozniacki's biggest weakness is that for all her great athleticism she lacks a killer shot, to which the Dane has a neat response. "If I don't have a weapon, then what do the others have?" she asked. "Since I'm No 1, I must be doing something right. I think people who say that aren't actually criticising me. I think it's the other players who should be offended."

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star