Wozniacki imparts valuable tips to aspiring local tennis players
Wozniacki dishes out advice and says she will strive to qualify for WTA Finals
It's hard to resist humming the tune of Neil Diamond's famous song whenever tennis star Caroline Wozniacki walks into a room.
The attractive 25-year-old, who famously had a star turn in this year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, always looks fresh and wears a bright, never diminishing smile when she greets her fans and the media -even after a 13-hour overnight flight from New York.
Fifty young tennis players from Nanyang Girls' High School and Hwa Chong Institution got the chance to meet the former world No. 1 yesterday at the Singapore Sport Institute, where Wozniacki dished out career advice, training tips, and demonstrated her serve using "Dartfish" - a video analysis software which measures body movement frame by frame.
Here on a two-day visit on an invitation from the Singapore Tourism Board and Sport Singapore, Wozniacki was game for questions, setting a casual, friendly tone when she asked her adoring audience: "Any food recommendations in Singapore? I'm a big foodie."
This is the Dane's third visit to the Republic, and she hopes to make it four next month at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
After a disappointing US Open earlier this month, when she lost to unseeded Petra Cetkovska in the second round, Wozniacki is now No. 6 in the world and 14th on the Road to Singapore leaderboard, and has yet to qualify for the glamour year-end tournament, which features only the top- eight players on the planet.
Wozniacki, or "Sweet Caroline", says there is no panic, and no such thing as too much pressure.
"Tennis is 90 per cent in your head. If you have the belief, that will take you places," the two-time US Open finalist (2009, 2014) said.
"You have to believe every time you're on the court that you're the best.
"And, if you lose, go back and get better. That's the attitude you need to have."
Wozniacki is also famous for having a great friendship with Serena Williams, but none of the students or the emcee yesterday asked if she had exchanged words with the American superstar after her shock failure to land the calendar Grand Slam at the recent US Open.
Once known as tennis' underachieving world No. 1 (she held the top spot for 67 weeks between 2010 and 2012 but failed to win a Grand Slam title), Wozniacki has spent much of the time since finding her game again.
She enjoyed a renaissance last season, but 2015 has been disappointing, with second-round exits in three of the four Grand Slams this year.
Coached by her father Piotr - a former footballer - the moment she first picked up a racket at age seven, Wozniacki cited strong family support system as integral for any budding tennis player.
It's her father's words that she uses to overcome stress - "Losing a match is not life or death; just compete at your best".
Asked about the pressure she faced while she was No. 1, the Monte Carlo resident recalled a time she lost to the No. 2 player and faced the media straight after.
"One person asked me how it felt losing to a lower-ranked player - and I just looked at him," she laughed.
"There's so much pressure you can put on yourself. People will try to put you down and that's why you need a support system always telling you you're on the right track."
Wozniacki will fly off tonight to Tokyo for the Toray Pan Pacific Open. After that, she will tackle the China Open in Beijing next month.
The goal for the rest of the year is to have a good run in Asia and make it back to Singapore for the WTA Finals.
"I'm healthy right now and that's important," said "Sweet Caroline".
"I really want to come back here. That's the focus for now."