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Wozniacki shifts focus to U.S. Open after early Cincinnati exit

Caroline Wozniacki’s second event back after more than three years away to start a family came to a quick end on Tuesday and left the former world number one aware that she has plenty to improve on ahead of the U.S. Open.

Wozniacki, who announced in June that she was coming out of retirement, accepted a wildcard for the Cincinnati main draw and was beaten 6-4 6-4 by lucky loser Varvara Gracheva of France in 95 minutes.

The 33-year-old’s defeat came a week after Wozniacki’s comeback event at the Canadian Open ended in a second round loss to Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova after looking sharp in her opening match at Montreal.

Against Gracheva, who moved into the main draw after Elina Svitolina withdrew with a foot injury, Wozniacki struggled to find her rhythm, did not return well and failed to cash in on any of her nine break points.

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“I still have about 10 days to prepare for the U.S. Open. There are quite a few things that I feel like I need to do better,” Wozniacki told reporters.

“Last week I thought I was pretty pleased about where I was. I think this week I don’t feel like my timing is exactly where I want it to be, so I’m just going to go back and work hard.”

Wozniacki, citing her desire to start a family with her husband, former NBA player David Lee, retired from tennis after the 2020 Australian Open. The Dane has since given birth to two children, Olivia and James.

She is the latest Grand Slam champion to return to competitive tennis after becoming a mother, a list that includes Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters – who won three Grand Slams after starting a family – and Victoria Azarenka.

Wozniacki, who undoubtedly wanted to get in more competitive matches ahead of the year’s final Grand Slam, plans to stick around Cincinnati and see if she can get in some hitting with other players in a bid to find her rhythm.

Despite only having three competitive matches since her return, Wozniacki feels she has what it takes to eventually meet the expectations for her to make a splash.

“I believe in myself, and I believe that I can. Obviously, it’s just taking me a little bit of time just to get used to the matches again and competing in real tournaments,” she said.

“But, you know, I don’t really feel the expectations from everyone else. I think I have always just been, you know, tough on myself. I’m looking for perfection, which is not possible in this sport but, you know, just going to work hard and try and play better and better.”

The U.S. Open begins on August 28.

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