As Caroline Wozniacki takes the court for the first time in Auckland today, don't be surprised if there is a swagger in her step.

Today's match marks the first time Wozniacki has started the season as a defending grand slam champion, after her momentous success in Melbourne last year.

The impact of that win can't be underestimated, as for so long Wozniacki was derided for her lack of grand slam success.

It was unfair — she had been world No 1 for 67 weeks, with 30 career titles, tens of millions in prizemoney and a global following — but was a reality.


For many critics, it left an asterisk by her name, as one of the best players not to win a grand slam, something of which she was constantly reminded. Andy Murray endured a similar tag until 2012.

Everything changed on January 27 last year, when Wozniacki outlasted Simona Halep over three hours on a hot Melbourne night to claim the Australian Open, a feat more meritorious given the Dane faced two match points in the second round.

"Obviously it was something that I really wanted, a big dream of mine to win a grand slam, and it was an amazing feeling and an incredible two weeks," said Wozniacki.

For the 28-year-old Dane, who reached grand slam finals in 2009 and 2014 as well as the semifinals on four other occasions, it was a relief to get the monkey off her back.

"It's definitely a great feeling not to have that question any more," said Wozniacki. "It feels amazing to have won that. I am really looking forward to going to Melbourne next week and being a defending champion and grand slam champion."

However, Wozniacki added it was also business as usual soon after her triumph.

"To be honest, my life didn't change much," said Wozniacki. "After that, it is back to the same routine: practice, wake up, prepare, play, practice. Once you finish your career one day, that's when you really look back at it and be proud of all your accomplishments. But for now, you always want to accomplish more."

Wozniacki broke through as a teenager, and by the end of 2010 had already made 20 finals, winning 12. There have been ups and downs but Wozniacki has mostly been a fixture in the top 10 and last year got back to No 1 for the first time in six years.


"I just keep grinding, just keep trying to be better," said Wozniacki. "You learn every year what you can try and do a little better."

Despite her success across the globe, ultimate success in Auckland has eluded her, with two defeats in the final (2018 and 2015) and another run to the last four.

"I would love to [win here]," said a relaxed Wozniacki, showing deft Sabrage skills during an appearance with tournament sponsors Moet and Chandon yesterday. "I've been close a few times, so I will try to do my best to go all the way. "

And despite her experience — 858 professional matches and counting — Wozniacki will have some nerves today when she faces German Laura Siegemund (world No 113), the lucky loser from qualifying.

"I think everyone always has butterflies in their stomach a little bit," said Wozniacki. "That's what makes it exciting. It's the excitement of trying to play well."

Today's order of play

Centre court, starting at midday

7-Kirsten Flipkens (Belgium) v Sara Sorribes Tormo (Spain)
2-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) v LL-Laura Siegemund (Germany)
3-Su-Wei Hsieh (Taiwan) v Monica Puig (Puerto Rico)

Not before 7pm

Eugenie Bouchard (Canada) v Q-Bibiane Schoofs (Netherlands)
2-Julia Goerges (Germany) v Mona Barthel (Germany)