TOKYO: Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki is hoping to keep the momentum from her first Grand Slam final appearance in five years going when she plays in the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo this week.
Despite her 6-3, 6-3 defeat by world number one Serena Williams in the US Open final a week ago, Wozniacki believes she has made a strong comeback.
Early this year she plunged to 18th in the world, her lowest ranking since reigning at the top in 2010 and 2011.
“I’ve played really well this summer. I’ve won so many matches,” the 24-year-old Dane said after her second Grand Slam final appearance. She lost to Kim Clijsters in the US Open final in 2009.
“I feel like I’m on the right path,” she said. “So I can finish off the year pretty strong and have a good start to the next year.”
Wozniacki’s ranking surged back into the top 10 last week. She has built up a 25-6 record since a first-round exit from the French Open in May, days after her painful and public break-up with world number one golfer Rory McIlroy.
Now the tenacious defensive player is ranked nine and closing in on a spot in the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore next month, which will feature the top eight-ranked women.
The Dane, the 2010 Pan Pacific Open champion, is seeded second to Angelique Kerber this year.
The 26-year-old German is ranked eighth in the world and the highest among the 28 singles players in this year’s event carrying $1,000,000 in total prize money.
Kerber, the runner-up in last year’s Pan Pacific, bowed out in the US Open third round after reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and last 16 in both the Australian and French Opens this year.
The field contains three other former number ones — the Serb duo of Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic as well as Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013.
Third-seeded Ivanovic, the world number 10, will take a first-round bye and then clash with Azarenka or Japan’s 44-year-old evergreen home favourite Kimiko Date-Krumm on Kerber’s side of the draw.
Wozniacki, who won the Istanbul Cup in July for her 22nd WTA title and her first this year, may face fourth-seeded Jankovic in the semi-finals.
Rising Swiss star Belinda Bencic, 17, may draw attention as a wild card after winning the junior titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and reaching the last eight in the US Open.
She is also teamed with fellow Swiss and former world singles number-one Martina Hingis, 33, in the doubles.
Hingis, with partner Flavia Pennetta of Italy, lost in the US Open doubles final in three sets to the Russian duo of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. But Pennetta has withdrawn from Tokyo with a right-foot injury.