No more asterisk: Woz earns No. 1 the hard way
TENNIS: Growing up, all Caroline Wozniacki wanted was to be the world No.1.
She got there for 67 consecutive weeks.
But having reached the pinnacle, her time at the top was belied by her failure to win a Grand Slam.
Now the Dane has that No.1 ranking back.
But this time there'll be no asterisk next to it.
This time, Wozniacki's ranking came courtesy of her maiden Grand Slam title.
It was merely a by-product of defeating Simona Halep in an epic three-set encounter which saw Wozniacki prevail 7-6 3-6 6-4 in just under three hours.
"I've dreamt of this moment for so many years,” a teary Wozniacki said after Saturday night's match.
"To be here today is a dream come true.
"My voice is shaking. I never cry. Today is a very emotional moment.”
In defeating Halep, Wozniacki not only usurped her No.1 ranking, but denied the Romanian her won breakthrough title on her third attempt.
"I know that today is a tough day,” Wozniacki said to Halep.
"I'm sorry that I had to win today.
"I'm sure we'll have many matches in the future.
"It was an incredible match. Incredible fight. Yeah, again I'm sorry.”
While Halep capitulated against Jelena Ostapenko at Rolland Garros in 2017, you could not fault her attack to the very end at Melbourne Park.
She not only saved match points in two separate matches, but did so on a dodgy ankle.
"I'm really happy I could play the final again in a Grand Slam,” Halep said.
"Of course I'm sad. I couldn't win today.
"But Caroline was better than me. For sure I will fight and I have many years to go. Hopefully I will face another challenge like today.”
In a seesawing match that included two medical time-outs and 10 breaks of serve, both women would have been deserving winners.
But it was Wozniacki who was able to push that little further for that little bit longer to hoist the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy.
Still, there were doubts.
Wozniacki spent the first half of 2017 injured, with her ranking plumeting into the 70s.
"I think you always, at certain points, especially when you start having injuries and stuff, you start maybe doubting if you're ever going to be 100 per cent healthy for longer periods of time,” she said.
"But I think last year, already for a year and a half, I've proved that I can beat anyone out there on court.
"When you're in the finals, I'm not going to lie, I was really nervous before going out there on court, but once I kind of settled in and we had the warm-up, I was just, like, I have everything to win.”
Now a Grand Slam champion and again a world No.1, Wozniacki has achieved it all.
And the best part? No more asterisks next to her name.
"Honestly, I think that's one of the most positive things about all of this,” Wozniacki said.
"I'm never going to get that question again.
"I'm just waiting for the question: When are you going to win the second?”