Melbourne – Caroline Wozniacki thanked Rory McIlroy for staying up late to watch her victory at the Australian Open on Tuesday after her boyfriend announced a multi-million dollar contract with Nike.
The Dane scrambled to a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 triumph over big-serving German Sabine Lisicki before revealing world number one golfer McIlroy burned the midnight oil in Abu Dhabi to watch her advance to the second round.
“I felt bad for him because I think he went to bed at about midnight their time, and woke up at about three their time, to watch me,” she said of the Northern Irishman who plays his first tournament of the year this week.
“Back to sleep for another couple of hours - that's a trooper.
“It's great to have that support and I know that he's watching on the TV or on the computer, always.
“It's nice to know you have that support. He has a big tournament coming up, his first tournament of the year, and hopefully he can have a good start to the year as well.”
McIlroy had a hectic day that involved the announcement of his deal in the UAE capital with the sportswear and equipment giant in what is believed to be one of the biggest sponsorship contracts in sport.
With the Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque lit up in the background, McIlroy stepped onto a stage wearing the Nike swoosh trademark and revealed the clubs he will take into competition starting at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
No exact details of what the deal was worth were released, but press reports estimated it could bring the 23-year-old up to US$250 million over 10 years.
“It wasn't really a big surprise to me,” Wozniacki smiled.
“I kind of knew. It was a long day for him yesterday with a lot of media and a lot of things on.
“But I think it's great. I'm so happy it happened for him and I don't think it could have happened to a better person.”
Wozniacki, who finished 2010 and 2011 as the world's top-ranked player, has endured a year of on-court struggles as her ranking slid to her current 10.
She is yet to win a major championship Ä McIlroy has two Ä but buoyed by defeating the dangerous if erratic Lisicki, Wozniacki said she approached 2013 with refreshed optimism.
“To be honest, the pressure I feel is just from myself,” she said.
“I want to go out there and play my best. I want to fight. I think I do that every time I play and as long as you have given your all Ä if it's not good enough, you have to go back to practice and get better.”
Wozniacki started badly when Lisicki broke in her first service game, but the Dane broke straight back. In the Melbourne heat, the German broke again to go 4-2 ahead and raced to the first set in 32 minutes.
The Dane gathered her composure and pulled 4-0 clear in the second set as Lisicki made error after error, winning 6-3 to set up a decider.
But Wozniacki's game fell apart and she quickly went 3-0 down before finding new reserves to win six consecutive games against her wilting opponent and ensure she remained in the tournament.
Straight after the match, Wozniacki returned to a practice court.
As she did, McIlroy tweeted: “Off and running at the Australian Open ... now I can get a few more hours sleep!” – Sapa-AFP