MASON, Ohio -- Caroline Wozniacki is finally back on her favorite surface, and she's climbing up the WTA rankings rather than sliding down.
After falling to No. 18 in March, Wozniacki endured a spell of injuries that effectively took her out of the clay season. Then came the unexpected breakup with Rory McIlroy right before the French Open.
But ever since her run to the semifinals in Eastbourne, narrowly losing to Angelique Kerber in a tight three-setter, Wozniacki has improved her form with every tournament. She went on to make the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time since 2011, back when she was No. 1 in the world. A week later she won her first title of the year at the Istanbul Cup
But her best test came last week at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, where she pushed Serena Williams to three sets before losing 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the quarterfinals. All that is to say, the Dane comes into Cincinnati primed to score her first top-ten win in over a year.
"I'm in a great place right now, and I feel like I have been working really hard," she told reporters after a 6-2, 6-3 win over Magdalena Rybarikova in the first round of the Western and Southern Open. "This is the part of the season I really like. I love playing on grass. I love the U.S. Open Series. It's definitely a part of the season I play well in. It's definitely a confidence boost. I won Istanbul and kind of went from there."
Now up to No. 12, Wozniacki is just happy to be back to her winning ways. Her ability to grit and gut out matches took her to No. 1 three years ago, and she's still looking for that signature win to put a stamp on her resurgence.
"I love being out there. I love playing on the big courts," she said. "Hopefully get far in the tournaments and get the great wins under my belt which are the ones where we really battle it out. Where you feel you are both playing really well and you win in the end, those are the most satisfying matches to win."
Physically, Wozniacki is looking leaner these days, which she chalks up to her 24-year-old body maturing.
"I think the body changes as you get older," she said. "You lose the baby fat, and you kind of get more lean."
She has also added some additional running into her fitness regime after deciding to run the New York City Marathon in November. Running a marathon was on her bucket list and with the WTA season ending earlier this year, she realized she actually had the window of time to run it.
"People ask me, 'Why don't you do just five- or 10‐[kilometer races]?' because I have never done a race before," Wozniacki said. "Well, five- or 10‐ks, I do that every day in practice. It's not a big deal for me. But going out and having to run over 42 kilometers, that's mental and it's something I really have to both physically but also mentally prepare myself really hard for."
So what's next on the bucket list for Wozniacki?
"Triathlon would probably be next, but let me see how I do the marathon first," she said. "Take it from there. I might say never ever again. I have to wait and see."