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U.S. Open: Caroline Wozniacki knows what it’s like to be No. 1

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark returns to Anastasija Sevastova

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark returns to Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia during their quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Caroline Wozniacki knows something about being No. 1 and she’s not afraid to talk about it.

On Thursday night she plays Angelique Kerber in the U.S. Open semifinals. Kerber would be No. 1 at the end of this tournament if she wins it or makes the final and Serena Williams doesn’t.

That No. 1 ranking isn’t an issue for Wozniacki after an injury-wracked season in which she has fallen to No. 74. It’s a number she really doesn’t care about, but after this run to the semifinal, that ranking will change substantially.

But from the end of 2010 through 2011 she was No. 1 for 67 straight weeks. She didn’t win a Grand Slam title during that time, nor has she ever, but she consistently won top-tier events and reached at least the quarterfinals of nearly every tournament.

She knows what Kerber has on the line at this tournament.

“I think when you’re a little kid and you don’t know what anything really means, everybody knows what it means to be the best in the world and everybody knows what it means to be No. 1,” said Wozniacki after her quarterfinal win over Anastasija Sevastova. “So I think getting the No. 1 ranking is extremely special and it’s something that everyone can kind of relate to and every little kid understands.”

While Kerber consistently has deflected questions about the possibility of being No. 1 when this tournament ends, Wozniacki talks about it effusively.

“Being No. 1 in the world is extremely special, and I’m sure Angie is feeling it, too,” she said. “I’m sure that she is going to do everything to get that ranking. She’s been playing really well this year. It’s something that very few people in the world have ever achieved. I mean, how crazy is it to say that you’re the best in the world at something? Doesn’t matter if tennis, football, being a lawyer, whatever it is. It’s really special.”

Wozniacki, a Dane, and Kerber, a German, have common Polish heritage and have been playing each other for a long time. Kerber leads the series, 7-5.

“Caroline is always a tough opponent,” Kerber said. “I know this. We know each other very well. I know how she is playing. She is strong again, she had great wins here.”

Kerber says she’s trying to deflate the pressure of possibly being No. 1 and only worrying about the next opponent. Like Wozniacki, she dreamt of being No. 1 when she was very young.

“When I was a kid, of course I was dreaming to winning Slams and being one day No. 1, and now it can happen,” Kerber said. “For me, what I also told already so many times, I’m trying to not put the pressure on myself, because I know I have to win a few more matches to reach the No. 1. When it happens it will be amazing feeling, because that was also one of my dreams when I was a kid. But, yeah, still I’m going step by step. Let’s see what happen here in the next few days. We’ll see.”


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