NEW YORK — Caroline Wozniacki’s comeback to tennis and the U.S. Open rolled on Friday with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over American Jennifer Brady, another player making a return to the game after a yearslong absence.
The 33-year-old from Denmark raised her fists in the air and glanced over to her husband in the stands when she closed out the match to move into the round of 16 at Flushing Meadows in just her third tournament back after 3 ½ years in retirement.
“To actually be here in Arthur Ashe Stadium with all of you supporting me is a dream come true,” she said in her post-match interview. “What an honor this is.”
Wozniacki, who will play the winner of the match later Friday between No. 6 Coco Gauff and 32nd-seeded Elise Mertens, said she won’t start thinking about that until after she spends some time celebrating with her 2-year-old daughter Olivia and 10-month old son, James.
The former No. 1 and 2018 Australian Open champion left the sport in early 2020 to start a family and later spent time working as a TV analyst. Now ranked 623rd, she needed a wild card to get into the U.S. Open main draw and believes she still has what it takes to make a deep run.
Wozniacki’s opponent, Brady, is making her own return to the game after two years away from the tour with injuries, including a fracture in her right knee and a tear in her left foot.
Earlier, top-seeded defending champion Iga Swiatek didn’t take it easy on close friend Kaja Juvan, beating the Slovenian qualifier 6-0, 6-1, in just 49 minutes. Swiatek has dropped only nine games so far in the tournament. She’s handed her opponents 19 6-0 sets on the WTA tour this year.
“I didn’t like the fact I was kind of winning against my best friend,” Swiatek told the crowd in Louis Armstrong Stadium afterward. “Playing her is like playing a sister. ... I don’t have many friends, but she’s my best friend.”
Swiatek next faces 20th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, the 2017 French Open champion, who came back to beat American Bernarda Pera 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Tenth-seeded American Frances Tiafoe moved into the fourth-round with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 7-6(6) victory over No. 22 Adrian Mannarino of France.
Another American, 14th-seeded Tommy Paul, moved into the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the first time, defeating No. 21 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 6-1, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3.
“I felt like I served a lot better, came to the net and played full-court tennis,” said Paul, who reached the semifinals of the Australian Open this year.
Paul will next face 20-year-old American Ben Shelton, who downed Russian Aslan Karatsev 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0, to reach his second Grand Slam tournament fourth round after his quarterfinal showing at this year’s Australian Open.
Earlier, No. 10 Karolina Muchova moved into the women’s fourth round with a 7-6 (0), 6-3 victory over Taylor Townsend.
She next faces Xinyu Wang of China, a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 winner over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia.