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US OPEN

Wozniacki out to enjoy US Open match against Kerber

The former world number one has slipped down the rankings to 74 after injury problems. "Being injured you kind of put things in perspective."

Wozniacki out to enjoy US Open match against Kerber
JUSTIN LANE EFE

Caroline Wozniacki may be considering retirement, according to quotes made by her father Piotr, but the former world number one is on the cusp of another grand slam final after her two runners-up showings at Flushing Meadows, in 2009 and 2014.

"We have not taken any final decision, but as I understand her, it will not be a long career," Piotr Wozniacki was quoted as saying.

"Focus on US Open"

The 26-year-old refused to knock back her father's opinion after reaching her first Grand Slam semi-final in two years. "I think I don't want to really talk about that now. When I feel ready to open up and say something then I will, but for now I'm just here to play this tournament," former world number one Wozniacki said after beating Anastasija Sevastova 6-0, 6-2 in the quarter-finals. "Hopefully I have two more matches here. Yeah, it's really all I'm focused on right now."

Wozniacki, whose ranking has slumped to 74 after a series of injury setbacks this year, faces Germany's Angelique Kerber on Thursday for a place in the US Open final.

Polish coffee club

The two are joined by friendship, Polish roots and cosy chats over coffee, but on Thursday they'll be ruthless in pursuit of a place in the US Open final.

It's an intriguing semi-final clash between a former world number one who has never won a Grand Slam title and the current number two who claimed a first major at the Australian Open in January.

"We are similar in that we are both hard working. I think that hard work pays off. She's obviously very passionate," said Wozniacki. "Angie's had a great year and I'm happy for her."

The two friends' paths have been heading in dramatically different directions this year.

Wozniacki injury

A right ankle injury sidelined 26-year-old Wozniacki for the best part of three months and her enforced absence from the French Open ended a streak of 36 successive appearances at the majors. She was ranked 74 coming into New York.

In contrast, Kerber has appeared in two of the three Slam finals, her success in Melbourne followed by defeat to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon championship match. The German, two years older at 28, could be number one in the world next week, five years after Wozniacki last held the position.

Wozniacki, Kerber as well as sisters Agnieszka and Urszula Radwanska have all grown up on the tour, all boasting Polish blood. The Radwanskas are Polish-born. Kerber has a Polish father and German mother.

Piotr and Anna Wozniacki left Poland to settle in Denmark when he secured a professional football contract with top Danish side Odense. Caroline was born in the city in 1990.

The four players' Polish bond is evident in holiday photos and they remain as close as they can be in the cut-throat environment of professional tennis. "We would still go on vacations, but the problem is like Aga is getting married, so then all of a sudden we're like, we just want a girls trip, but it's tough when everyone has their own thing," said Wozniacki.

"But we hang out and we have coffees and sit and talk and have a good time. I think the great thing about our little group is that we have hung out for years and it doesn't matter who is No. 1 or who is lower ranked, we always have our little clique. We chat and have a laugh."

There hasn't been a lot to laugh about for Wozniacki in recent months.

First Grand Slam win

Her carefree hitting at the US Open has been interpreted as a sign that for someone with 23 career titles and $20 million in the bank, there are few challenges left -- apart from that elusive first major.

"Being injured and being away from the game you kind of put things in perspective. You're like, I could get injured again tomorrow and I won't have another shot out there," said Wozniacki.

"I'm enjoying it much more now than I was then. Back then I was just trying and grinding for staying at the top of the rankings for as long as possible," added the Danish star who keeps a second home in New York.

"Now obviously I want to win every match, but it's different. I'm not the favourite. I'm just going in there as the underdog and going out doing my thing."

Kerber leads Wozniacki 7-5 in career meetings but they have never met at a Slam.

If the German prevails on Thursday and goes on to dethrone Williams as world number one, Wozniacki will be one of the first to congratulate her coffee club friend.

"It's something that very few people in the world have ever achieved. I mean, how crazy is it to say that you're the best in the world at something? Doesn't matter if it's tennis, football, being a lawyer, whatever it is. It's really special."