Caroline Wozniacki is delighted her bestie Serena Williams is giving Auckland another go and will play at what will be Wozniacki's seventh and last shot at winning the ASB Classic.
Williams, 37, was underwhelming in 2017, making 88 unforced errors on the way to losing in the second round. Afterwards she blamed the "abhorrent" conditions and said she couldn't wait to go to Melbourne for better weather.
The tournament was hit by wind and rain, causing a logistical headache as matches had to be rescheduled at the open-air venue.
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But Auckland wasn't all bad news for Williams, who announced her engagement to Alexis Ohanian from a private beach on Waiheke Island.
"I think she thought about it and she realised that Auckland would be a great place to start the year," Wozniacki told the Weekend Herald from the US.
"And, you know, everyone can change their opinion and I think that she is thrilled to be back," she said of Williams, who was her bridesmaid when Wozniacki wed former NBA star David Lee in June.
Both women have a special motivation for the Auckland tournament which begins on January 6.
It is a perfect launch pad for Williams' attempt to win the Australian Open and equal Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
And it is the last chance for Wozniacki, 29, to claim the title at a tournament where she has become a favourite of the crowd and tournament director Karl Budge.
Budge says Wozniacki's loyalty has drawn other big names to the little event.
"She is truly a global superstar and plays some of her best tennis at the ASB Classic," Budge said.
It's going to be hard knowing that we won't have her back on centre court, but I'm quietly hoping she can lift the silverware here in January. It would be the perfect way to cap off what's been a great relationship between her and the ASB Classic."
"Caro is genuinely one of the nicest players on the tour, and I think the fans can tell that as she really has a strong fan base here in New Zealand. We talk throughout the year about tennis as well as life, and I'm really happy to be able to call her a good friend."
The Danish former No 1 made two finals and two semifinals here. Her last tournament will be the Australian Open and though she has to contend with rheumatoid arthritis, diagnosed in 2018, she will be fighting for the win.
"I hope so. It's going to be my last time playing there," she said.
"I am very happy with where I am now. I'm very happy I gave it everything that I have for as long as I felt was possible and I still feel like I can beat anyone and I can still win any tournament."
"I really enjoy playing [in Auckland]. It's just a great way to start the year. It's happy, the courts are open; it feels homely and I love that about it. It's a lot of fun for us players."
The former Australian Open champion says her health is good and she is able to manage the autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, pain and swelling in the joints.
"It is the new me and I feel pretty good. I'm training every day now. It's about listening to your body, eating the right things."
She says there was no single factor in her decision to retire at 29. Her husband retired from professional sport two years ago and the timing felt right.
"A lot of things stand out. Winning the Australian Open, becoming No1 twice, playing the Olympics three times and being flagbearer for my country, something I am very proud of.
"I got to play with the likes of [Lindsay] Davenport and [Kim] Clijsters when they were playing and … [Elena] Dementieva, [Vera] Zvonareva, and now I've got to play with the new generation that's coming up. Obviously Venus and Serena have been special because they are some of the greatest to ever play the sport."
Beyond the tennis court she is looking forward to time with family and friends, for skiing, "and, when Dave and I are ready, we are going to try to start a family".
Her final tennis match will be an exhibition against Serena Williams in Copenhagen in May.
She and Williams became firm friends after the American sought her out to play doubles.
"I mean, she is awesome," Wozniacki said. "She's the nicest person, very thoughtful very sweet, open, honest."
Friendship and fierce rivalry don't always go hand in hand but Wozniacki reveals they have an understanding.
"We told each other that whatever happens on the court happens on the court. First of all we want to win on the court, but off the court you are friends and it is going to be fine."
Auckland is almost as big an attraction for her as the tournament.
"You are always preparing for your next match, preparing to win, but I always try to do something. It's a beautiful place. I love the beaches, the sand and the atmosphere there.
We've been to Waiheke, to some vineyards, swimming. We've taken a helicopter, we've seen Auckland from above. It's been fun.
"I am coming down with my husband and my parents so it will be nice to have an excursion. David loves wine, so I think we will go to a special winery."
She is also keen to visit one of top New Zealand chef Josh Emett's restaurants. Tournament organisers are planning to take that a step further and arrange for Wozniacki and Lee to have dinner with Emett and his wife Helen.
The Wozniacki files
• She has won US$34m (NZ$50m) in prizemoney.
• She has twice been ranked No 1.
• Her single Grand Slam win came at the Australian Open in 2018.
• Both her parents were prominent athletes in their native Poland. Her father, Piotr, was a professional footballer and her mother, Anna, played for the national volleyball team.
• One of the best athletes on the professional tennis circuit, Wozniacki ran the 2014 New York marathon in an impressive 3:26:33, raising US$81,000 for a children's charity.