Jabeur sends Wozniacki into retirement

andrew hendrie:

Caroline Wozniacki’s illustrious career has come to an end after the Dane lost in three sets to Tunisian trailblazer Ons Jabeur in the third round of the Australian Open on Friday.

Wozniacki put in another trademark shift, battling all the way to the end in a nail-biting three-setter, but she faltered while serving to stay in the match, making an incorrect challenge before firing a forehand long as Jabeur reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time by a 7-5 3-6 7-5 scoreline.

The former World No. 1 nearly pulled off the comeback after trailing 0-3 in the decider, but Jabeur stayed aggressive and trusted her powerful game in the crucial moments to hold on for victory.

Just 29 years of age, Wozniacki announced she would be retiring after the Australian Open during the off-season after struggling through much of 2019 with rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disease that causes a great amount of distress on joints all over the body.

But, the woman known as ’Sunshine’ was ready with jokes immediately after the match.

Wozniacki was also understandably emotional as tournament organisers played a tribute video featuring all of the Dane’s biggest rivals throughout her glittering career, including Serena Williams and Simona Halep.

ATP players also paid tribute to Wozniacki in a video posted by the WTA, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Bursting onto the scene as a 15-year-old all the way back in 2005, Wozniacki won her first WTA title in Stockholm in 2008 and would go on to win at least one title all the way through to 2018 for a streak of 11 years.

Caroline Wozniacki (AAP Image/Scott Barbour)

Overall, Wozniacki captured 30 tour-level titles across all surfaces, including the 2018 Australian Open and 2017 WTA Finals – two triumphs that propelled her back to World No. 1 after a six-year absence, which was the longest gap between No. 1 stints in WTA rankings history after she first reached the summit in 2010 and 2011 (where she was the year-end No. 1 both times).

Other notable tournaments for Wozniacki included winning the Premier Mandatory BNP Paribas Open title in Indian Wells in 2011 and runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open in 2009 and 2014.

“I congratulate Caroline on her outstanding career in professional tennis as she steps away as a true champion and fantastic ambassador of our sport,” said Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO.

“Her 30 titles, including the Australian Open and WTA Finals, in addition to her two Year-End World No.1 season finishes are a tribute to her tremendous dedication and passion for the game. She will be greatly missed by fans around the world, but I know this marks an exciting new chapter for Caroline and on behalf of the WTA family, I wish her every success and happiness in the future.”

Wozniacki leaves the game with a tour-level record of 598-256 and prize money of over $35 million.

Jabeur, meanwhile, is the first Arab woman to make the Australian Open fourth round and will next take on Qiang Wang, who stunned 23-time major champion Serena Williams on Rod Laver Arena.