MELBOURNE, Australia — Caroline Wozniacki walked into a small interview room at Melbourne Park, relaxed and with a big grin on her face. It was impossible to miss the diamond on her finger glistening under the light. Wozniacki is recently engaged. You could say she is just as engaged on the court.
In the past 18 months, Wozniacki, who topped the world rankings at the end of 2010 and 2011, has risen quickly from a low point of 74 in August, 2016 to her current mark of No. 2. Depending how things go here, she could yet return to No. 1 before the fortnight is out.
On Wednesday, Wozniacki showed the resilience and heart that has been the trademark of her comeback as she came from 5-1, 40-15 down in the third set to beat Croatia’s Jana Fett in a thrilling match to reach the third round of the Australian Open.
Wozniacki attributed the dedication to her craft for the latest miracle win and her all-around success in recent months.
“Nobody knows the work you put in every single day to try to be better and win that one extra point, that one extra match,” Wozniacki told ESPN.com. “I think I am very proud of the way I just kept my head down and just did my thing.
“Things started to go my way, and it’s been a really great year and a half. Hopefully I can continue this way, and hopefully my body holds up.”
Even in her most difficult times, Wozniacki never doubted herself.
“I felt like no matter who I played, I could beat them,” she said. “But I think just the motivation, when you keep getting hurt and there’s always something hurting, that’s kind of demoralizing. You feel like you’ve had a great couple of weeks and great workouts, then something else hurts and you have to kind of start over.
“I think that was the hardest part, just having to stay and positive and figure out a way to make your body stay stable and healthy.”
On Wednesday, though, it was her experience resolve that got her through, as Fett, the world No. 119, faltered at the final hurdle.
“At 5-1, 40-15, I felt like I was one foot out of the tournament,” Wozniacki told reporters. “She served a great serve down the T, as well. It was just slightly out. I was kind of lucky.
“Then I felt her tighten up just slightly. I thought to myself: Make her win it; don’t give it to her. When I managed to [break] for 5-2, I said, ‘OK, I’m still alive.’
In November, Wozniacki, 27, announced her engagement to David Lee, a former NBA player famous for his time with the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors.
“Just having that stability and happiness, everything going smoothly off the court, it definitely helps me on the court,” Wozniacki said. “Choosing the right person is also very important. I think I’ve gotten very lucky to have someone in my corner who is very easy going, and very stable, and very happy all the time.
“He knows sports is not easy. One day you feel you’re playing great, and the next you’re not; you’re fighting to find the momentum.”
In 2014, Wozniacki’s engagement to Rory McIlroy was called off abruptly on the eve of the French Open. The personal setback stung, but it did not last.
Whatever happens here, Wozniacki is ready to get on a roll.
“I’d love to win,” she said. “That’s always the goal. There’s a long way to go, but I feel ready.”