Former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki has revealed she has been suffering with rheumatoid arthritis for the last few months.
With the Australian Open the next grand slam event on the calendar, the 28 year old Dane is in a race to be ready to defend the title she won when she defeated Simona Halep in the final in January.
Wozniacki was diagnosed with the auto-immune disease prior to the US Open this summer, but has been able to play through it.
The Dane’s 2018 season came to an end as she was knocked out of the WTA Finals at the group stage after a defeat to Elina Svitolina and she will now use the off-season to plan how to manage the illness.
“Some days you wake up and you can’t get out of bed,” she said.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain and swelling in the joints. It often manifests in smaller joints such as those found in the hands, feet and wrists of those living with the condition. For a tennis professional the disease is a perfect storm.
Wozniacki is determined that it won’t stop her from playing.
“In the beginning it was a shock. Just you feel like you’re the fittest athlete out there, or that’s in my head, that’s what I’m known for, and all of a sudden you have this to work with,” the world No.3 told a press conference in Singapore on Thursday.
“It’s obviously not ideal for anybody and I think when you’re a professional athlete, it’s also not even more ideal.
“But you find a plan, figure out what to do, you do your research, and thankfully there are great things now that you can do to it and do about it.
“You just kind of move on from it and work through it and figure out how to deal with it and live with it.
“You learn how to just cope after matches. Some days you wake up and you can’t get out of bed and you just have to know that’s how it is, but other days you live and you’re fine. You don’t even feel like you have it.
Wozniacki said she was glad she was done with her season so she could focus on controlling and managing her disease in the future.
“Some people can go into remission and some people it just stops, the disease, and it’s just right there and it’s not going to get worse, or if it does, it’s slowly,” she said.
“The medicine now is so amazing so I’m not worried about it. So that’s great. You just have to be aware.”
Wozniacki did suffer a drop in results after her diagnosis, until bouncing back in style, winning the China Open in Beijing earlier this month.
Wozniacki can take heart from Novak Djokovic’s return to top form which sees the Serb on the cusp of finishing the year ranked at number one.
Djokovic is currently at number two in the ATP rankings behind Rafael Nadal.
A win in the final Masters tournament in Paris next week could be enough for Djokovic to return to the top for the first time since he conceded the number one ranking to Andy Murray at the same event in 2016.
Djokovic lost in the quarter-finals to Croatian Marin Cilic and complained of a debilitating elbow injury that wrecked his 2017 campaign.
If he can reclaim the number one crown he will head to his favourite hunting ground at Melbourne Park in January as a short priced favourite to claim his 7th Australian Open title.
– with AAP