MELBOURNE, Australia
Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams were both left in tears after the Dane’s
glittering tennis career ended in a third-round defeat at the Australian Open
on Friday.

The former world number one, who announced in December that
this would be her final tournament, lost 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 to lower-ranked Ons
Jabeur of Tunisia.

The unseeded 29-year-old Wozniacki brings the curtain down
on a career that saw her win 30 WTA titles, with her sole Grand Slam triumph
coming in 2018 at Melbourne Park.

She was in tears when the end came at the hands of
78th-ranked Jabeur and just under two hours later, her eyes were still red and
puffy as she arrived at her post-match press conference. 

“I was told there are tissues here. I see the tissues
in case I need them, I think I’m cried out,” said Wozniacki, who was given
a round of applause by reporters.

She was also given a generous reception by Melbourne Arena
crowd after hitting her last shot in tennis — “I finished my career with
a forehand error. Those are the things I’ve been working on my whole
career,” she joked to the crowd.

Choking back tears, Wozniacki, now ranked 36, added:
“Guess this is just how it was meant to be.”

Wozniacki, who made her professional debut in 2005, was
carried triumphantly across court by her Polish-born father — who is also her
coach — Piotr.

She also hugged husband David Lee, the former NBA star, as
Neil Diamond’s hit song “Sweet Caroline” reverberated around court.

– ‘I made it happen’ –

Wozniacki finished 2010 and 2011 as world number one, and
ascended to the top ranking again in 2018, the year she won the Australian
Open. 

But later that year she revealed that she was suffering with
rheumatoid arthritis, which causes fatigue and joint pain.

She insists that has nothing to do with her decision to
leave tennis and says she hopes to start a family.

Defeat for Wozniacki, minutes before Serena Williams’s shock
loss to Wang Qiang, deprived the close friends of an emotional meeting in the
fourth round.

Williams also cried when asked about Wozniacki’s retirement.

“She came into the locker room afterwards, we were both
kind of bummed about our matches,” said the American, 38.

It was then that Williams, who was a bridesmaid at
Wozniacki’s wedding, began welling up too.

“She’s had an amazing career. Oh my God, I’m getting
emotional. Oh my,” she said.

“God, I’m going to miss her. Guys, I can’t answer
Caroline questions, I’m going to be crying. She’s one of my best friends in the
world. 

“We have a great life for the rest of our lives
together, but I’m going to miss her out on tour.”

Wozniacki, who started playing tennis aged seven, said she
had no second thoughts about retirement and could look back on her career with
no regrets.

“The main thing I’ve learned is no matter where you’re
from, no matter what colour of your skin, no matter if you’re tall or short,
big or small, doesn’t matter,” said the Dane.

“If you have a dream and you go for it and work hard,
anything is possible.

“I had a dream when I was a kid. I wanted to win a
Grand Slam. I wanted to be number one in the world. 

“People thought that I was crazy being from a small
country, But I made it happen.”

Novak Djokovic barely got out of first gear in a sizzling
performance to thrash Yoshihito Nishioka and move into the Australian Open
fourth round Friday, closing in on a record eighth title.

The Serbian defending champion swept past the Japanese 6-3,
6-2, 6-2 in just 85 minutes on Rod Laver Arena to reach a Grand Slam round of
16 for the 50th time — second only to Roger Federer’s 67.

“That’s definitely one of the best service matches I
have had lately,” said the world number two after firing down 17 aces,
along with 40 winners.

“I was inspired by my coach Goran (Ivanisevic) who came
out here today. He brings a lot of insight.”

He will next play 14th seed Diego Schwartzman for a place in
the quarter-finals after the Argentinian beat Djokovic’s countryman Dusan
Lajovic 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (9/7). 

“Diego is definitely one of the quickest on tour.
Hopefully if I serve as good as I did today, I feel I have a decent
chance,” said the second seed.

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