NEW YORK • After a season of struggles, Caroline Wozniacki said it was "crazy" to be back in the US Open quarter-finals, given that she had reached that stage only twice this year at much smaller tournaments.
But, after the 74th-ranked Dane sealed her 6-3, 6-4 fourth-round victory over world No. 8 Madison Keys on Sunday, she clarified that such feelings should not be interpreted as surprise.
"I'm not surprised that I could make it this far, because I always believe in myself," the 26-year-old said. "When I get on court, I always believe that I'll win the match."
Wozniacki, who spent 67 weeks ranked No. 1 from 2010 to 2012, showed flashes of the tenacious defence that took her to the top.
Though she has been humbled by injury and inconsistent, uncertain play, Wozniacki said she still felt as if her peers continued to rate her highly.
"Everybody knows how I play, and you always have a target on your back once you've gotten somewhere and reached something," she said.
"Everybody wants to beat you. No matter at this current moment what my ranking is, I always feel like I'm a target. I have to keep improving to beat everybody.
"I feel like I have been serving well this week, especially today, and returning well and really having good court coverage."
One reason for the Dane's good run may be that she feels right at home in New York as she owns an apartment in the city.
And at this US Open she has a helping hand too when it comes to domestic chores.
"My mum is staying with me. She's cooked a couple of meals. She does my laundry, as well. It's nice to have mum around," said the Dane.
She next faces another unexpected quarter-finalist, Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, who upset world No. 3 Garbine Muguruza in the second round.
Sevastova, ranked 48th, became the first Latvian woman in 22 years to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final when she beat British 13th seed Johanna Konta 6-4, 7-5.
Larisa Savchenko was the last Latvian woman to make the quarter-finals of a Slam at Wimbledon in 1994.
Sevastova had not won a match in New York since 2010 before this year and with her career unravelling, she quit in May 2013 to study leisure management in Austria.
She returned to the sport in January last year and that decision has been fully vindicated by her stunning run.
"I had a lot of injuries. I was depressed and it just wasn't fun anymore, but now I'm back," she said.
The Latvian will have to be in top form in the quarter-finals since Wozniacki ended her previous best run at a Grand Slam, beating her in the fourth round of the 2011 Australian Open.
NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE