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U.S. Open: Caroline Wozniacki a Dane in love with New York

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark celebrates after defeating Madison

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark celebrates after defeating Madison Keys of the United States during their 2016 U.S. Open women's singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on Sept. 4, 2016. Credit: Getty Images / Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

Caroline Wozniacki is Danish, but she also counts herself as a New Yorker.

Wozniacki loves New York. She has an apartment here. She ran her only marathon here two years ago. And the self-described fashion geek is a regular at New York Fashion Week.

But the biggest reason that Wozniacki loves this city is she has enjoyed some of her biggest career moments at the U.S. Open. She reached her only two Grand Slam finals here in 2009 and 2014. And Sunday, with her win over No. 8-seeded Madison Keys, the 26-year-old did something maybe more important: She resuscitated her career.

Wozniacki had little trouble dispatching Keys, the player considered to be the future of American women’s tennis, 6-3, 6-4. The win puts Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, her deepest run in a Grand Slam tournament in two years. Wozniacki next meets Anastasija Sevastova, who quit the sport three years ago to go to school and is also unseeded. The showing also likely saves her from dropping out of the world’s top 100 for the first time since 2007.

“This is crazy,” Wozniacki said after playing a nearly pristine match in which she made only seven unforced errors, 26 fewer than Keys. “After such a tough year, to be in the quarterfinals is just amazing.”

The former No. 1 player in the world began the year at No. 17 but proceeded to drop 57 places before the start of the U.S. Open. Until her first-round win over Taylor Townsend last week, Wozniacki had failed to win a Grand Slam match this season. Fighting ankle and wrist injuries, she lost in the first round of the Australian Open and Wimbledon, then missed the French Open and most of the clay season.

The 5-10 Wozniacki always has led a pretty full life away from the court. She had a very public romance with golfer Rory McIlroy, who called off their engagement two years ago after the wedding invitations had been sent out. She has done some modeling. This past February, she appeared in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, wearing only paint.

Heading into this year’s U.S. Open, she also wrote a Letter to My Younger Self that was published in The Players’ Tribune. The piece talked extensively about setting herself up for a life after tennis, mentioning her passion for the fashion world.

All this, coupled with her falling rankings, led many to wonder if retirement was on the near horizon. After Sunday’s win, however, Wozniacki sounded like someone who is loving the game again, especially the fact she can play it without pain.

“It’s tough to play well, or not that well, when you’re injured,” she said. “I think at that point you’re just thinking about getting back on the court and feeling healthy. The fact that I have been playing good the last few weeks and the fact my ankle feels good and the rest of my body feels good, I think that’s the main thing.”

This is Wozniacki’s deepest run in a Grand Slam tournament in two years, and clearly she’s enjoying it.

“I love it here,’’ she said. “The fans have been behind me since basically the first time I stepped out on the big court and people realized that I may become a good player one day. I think it’s been equal love for New York and the crowd for me since I reached the finals in 2009. It feels amazing.”

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