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02 October 2023

Wozniacki pleased to avoid least favourite question

Caroline Wozniacki looks out for an aerial view of the city from the observation deck of the world's highest tower, Burj Khalifa. (AP)


Caroline Wozniacki believes it may help her to spend a week without being world number one as she bids for her first title since triumphing in Beijing in October.

That's because she should now avoid her least favourite question, one she shares with Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic, who also reached the top of the rankings without winning a Grand Slam title.

"At least I won't get this question over and over again, how does it feel to be number one without winning one of them," said Wozniacki, who lost the top ranking on Monday after Kim Clijsters reached the semi-finals of last week's Paris Open.

"At least I get over that," she repeated, before claiming that it would make no difference to her attitude this week, during which she is seeded to take the Dubai Open title in Clijsters' absence.

"The sun is shining, I'm still playing the same way and I'm still here to compete in the tournament and try to win it. There's absolutely no difference," said Wozniacki.

Nevertheless, Clijsters' surprising loss in the Paris Open final to Petra Kvitova has left Wozniacki needing only to reach this week's semi-finals to make up the 180 ranking points difference between her and the Belgian.

However, Kvitova could have some influence on that too, for she looks quite likely to play Wozniacki in the last 16.

If Wozniacki survives that she should have a quarter-final with Li Na, the Chinese player who saved a match point against her while reaching the Australian Open final last month.

Wozniacki admitted it took "four or five days" to get over that disappointment.

To earn the chance of revenge will require her to block out short-term ideas about being number one again this week, and she even claimed she had no notion of whether or not that was possible.

"I don't look at the rankings. I just do my best," she claimed.

"If I'm number one, that's great, that's what I always practise for, that's of course what I'll try to reach. If I'm number two, that's great. I go out there and play and do my best. If the ranking comes that's fine."

Pushed to answer how important the number one spot really is for her, Wozniacki replied: "You know, at the end of the year you always see who was the number one of the year, who played the best in the whole year.

"At the end of the year you want to make it to the Masters, you want to make it to the year-end championships. That's the goal.

"Now in the season it will change a little bit, but honestly it's the end of the year where you really look at the rankings and how your year was."

Wozniacki will not start until Wednesday, possibly against Daniela Hantuchova, the winner of the Pattya Open on Sunday, though the Slovakian will have to overcome another former top-ten player, Anna Chakvetadze of Russia.

Li, the first Chinese singles player ever to reach a Grand Slam final, will also start her first tournament since her Melbourne exploits on Wednesday.

She is set to play either Yanina Wickmayer, the world number 25 from Belgium, or Bojana Jovanowski, a wild card entry from Serbia.

Asked whether soon there will be many Chinese players challenging for Grand Slam titles, Li said: "Of course right now I was in the final (in Australia) and a lot of children may think maybe they can do better than me.

"Maybe after three or five years they will do that."
Results on the first day of the WTA Dubai Open (x denotes seeding):
1st round
Zhang Shuai (CHN) bt Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 6-3, 6-4
Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) bt Iveta Benesova (CZE) 6-3, 3-6, 6-1
Alexandra Dulgheru (ROM) bt Elena Baltacha (GBR) 7-6 (7/3), 6-4
Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) bt Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 6-2, 6-2
Alisa Kleybanova (RUS x15) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 4-6, 6-4, 6-0