The Danish Caroline Wozniacki waves after she plays Dayana Yastremska from Ukraine in her single game of the second round at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, defeated Wednesday, January 22, 2020. (AP Photo / Andy Brownbill)
Caroline Wozniacki had tears in her eyes when she realized her dreams of a triumphal farewell to tennis at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old former number 1 in the world returned in both sets and defeated the 23-year-old Dayana Yastremska from Ukraine with 7: 5, 7: 5.
Neil Diamond's hit "Sweet Caroline" hit the stormy Margaret Court Arena after the Dane made her sixth match point in the third round.
She plays Ons Jabeur from Tunisia on Friday.
"It's a bit emotional for me," said Wozniacki, winner of the 2018 Australian Open, who announced in December that this would be her final tournament.
“The crowd really stood behind me, that was so special. I thank you all for coming out today. That means a lot to me, ”she added, fighting the tears.
19-year-old Yastremska, who was beaten by Ashleigh Barty in the final in Adelaide last week, threatened to put an end to Wozniacki's career.
Wozniacki, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, which causes tiredness and joint pain, failed 5: 1 in the first set and fought his way through in 53 hard minutes.
Wozniacki, who is now in 36th place and ended in 2010 and 2011 in 1st place in the world, also quickly lost 3-0 in the second set.
Again she fought back with a 4: 4 success and then held her own serve to lead 5: 4, and just off lap three.
Yastremska then needed a medical break for an apparently left thigh problem and returned to court with heavy belts.
She saved five match balls, but with the crowd behind, Wozniacki would not be denied on the sixth attempt because the young Ukrainian dragged a forehand long.
Tribute to Papa
The Dane, who says that one of the main reasons for retirement was to start a family with her husband and former NBA star David Lee, admitted that she initially feared that Yastremska would blow her away.
"She came out swinging … and everything went, including balls that she didn't know could be hit that way," said Wozniacki, who won 30 WTA titles in his professional tennis career by 2005.
"I only thought to myself: it can't go on. If it goes on like this, I can't do much."
Wozniacki, who started playing tennis at the age of seven, is coached by her father Piotr, a former professional football player.
When asked what was the best decision in her career, she said, “I think I stuck to my father, and this partnership made me the player I am today.
"I definitely would not have been where I am today if it hadn't been for the trust that existed between us and only the trip was amazing."
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