Caroline Wozniacki lived with the criticisms of her game for more than a year while she was world No 1 but yesterday she went on the attack. Wozniacki, who plays her first match here in the Dubai Duty Free Championships tomorrow, said that her critics, including Martina Navratilova, had been "disrespectful".
At last month's Australian Open, Navratilova said that "clearly nobody feels that Wozniacki is a true No 1". Navratilova, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, said Wozniacki, who lost her No 1 ranking to Victoria Azarenka in Melbourne, would not have reached the top if extra points were still awarded for victories over top players.
"Wozniacki doesn't even have that great a record in her career over the last four years over the top 10 or against the top five," Navratilova said. She added that the rankings relied "too much on quantity and not enough on quality".
Another former player, Martina Hingis, also criticised Wozniacki, who has never won a Grand Slam title. Hingis said the Dane, 21, was too defensive.
Wozniacki said: "I have lost a little bit of respect. Because I respect what they have achieved. I know how hard it is to reach the top level of a sport like tennis. I would never say Martina [Navratilova] was No 1 when there was no one playing. That would be disrespectful. She was unbelievable. She won so many Grand Slams. Her touch was unbelievable. Martina Hingis was unbelievable as well – my favourite player. But I think they should respect the players that are playing now as well. Because they know how hard it is."
Wozniacki does not expect to join the ranks of critical commentators when she retires. "I don't like to criticise, I'm always the positive one," she said, before adding with a smile: "I think maybe I would get fired."