Ah, the perils of life in Monte Carlo. Leave your home to go on a training run and you never know what obstacles you might collide with. “I literally bumped into Sylvester Stallone twice on one run,” Caroline Wozniacki recalled. “Bang! Right into him when I ran around a corner.
“I’ve run into quite a few [celebrities]. I ran next to Paula Radcliffe when I was there a few weeks ago. At first she was running in the other direction, then she was running back. She was running fast. She’s so skinny. She was just flying.”
Few players in women’s tennis are as fit as Wozniacki, who has built her game around her speed and stamina. Plenty can hit the ball harder, but very few can get as many balls back as the 24-year-old Dane.
Years of running and chasing, nevertheless, have been catching up with Wozniacki, who has a long-term knee problem and has had trouble with a wrist. She has been competing on the main women’s tour for 10 years and plays more tournaments – and consequently more matches – than most other players. Wozniacki has already had 626 matches in her professional career. Compare that with the more selective Serena Williams, who is nine years older yet has played only 190 more matches than her friend.
Does Wozniacki sometimes wonder if playing tennis is wearing out her body? “There’s no doubt about it,” she said. “We practise so much every day. The body takes a beating. And in matches you go for balls that maybe you wouldn’t go for in practice. Sometimes you just tweak a few things. But it’s part of the game. There’s always something hurting a little bit.”
Has she ever thought about changing her game by trying to finish the points more quickly? “No, I haven’t. I know that I’m not going to play for ever. I’m playing for as long as I want to and for as long as I feel happy and passionate about the game. Hopefully, my body can keep up for that amount of time. It’s already done very well.
“My playing style is the one that I grew up with. Everyone develops a playing style that they feel comfortable with, that comes naturally to them. You just have to build on that. I think now it’s too late to change.”
Enjoying a relatively injury-free period since last spring has been a major factor in Wozniacki’s return to form, though she never doubted that she would get back to the top of the game.
“I’ve always had belief in myself,” she said. “I had a few injuries which, for example, kept me out for most of the clay-court season last year. All of a sudden you see everyone else is playing, you can’t practice properly, and if you don’t practice properly you don’t play properly and you get annoyed. It’s like a mean circle. I always knew that I had the game for it and I have the head for it, but you need to put the effort into practice to then do it out on the court.”Reuse content