Melbourne: Defending Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters on Wednesday said Caroline Wozniacki deserved her world number one ranking despite never having won a grand slam.
Speaking after her 6-0, 6-1 second round demolition of Frenchwoman Stephanie Foretz Gacon on Wednesday, Clijsters defended the 21-year-old Dane who has faced constant questions about her status.
"Caroline is the girl who has been the most consistent player by far, injury-free, played a lot of tournaments, but also did well in those tournaments," Clijsters said.
"She deserves to be up there. When she goes head to head against Serena or myself, you know, she has a losing record, but at the end of the day when you become number one that doesn't matter.
"To become number one you need to have the qualities that she has -- that is to be consistent and to last throughout a whole season."
The 28-year-old Clijsters herself became number one for the first time in August 2003, two years before she won her maiden grand slam title at the 2005 US Open.
"As a young girl growing up, looking at the past number ones... those were definitely people and players that I admired," she said.
"So for me to be in that position at such a young age was definitely something that made me very proud.
"But obviously, you know, winning a grand slam is what kind of tops that feeling. So, if you can say: 'Look, I've been number one in my career, that's good enough', it doesn't matter that much."
Clijsters was in superb touch Wednesday, needing just 47 minutes to see off Foretz Gacon.
The Belgian had started slowly in her first round win over Portugese qualifier Maria Joao Koehler on Monday, but she was switched on right from the start against Foretz Gacon, racing through the first set in just 22 minutes.
The Frenchwoman finally held serve at the start of the second set, but that was her only success as Clijsters sped away with the match.
Clijsters was do dominant that Foretz Gacon only won 24 points in the match, 13 of those coming from Clijsters' unforced errors.
"I felt like in my first match I didn't really have that rhythm that I would have liked to have," she said. "So that's usually something that I try to look for in the beginning of the match.
"I was hitting the ball well, felt that I could keep her under pressure. I didn't really let her play her game, from the beginning till the end, I did what I had to do well."