Wozniacki Secures #1 Year-end Ranking
October 28, 2010 -- Twenty-year-old Caroline Wozniacki secured the year-ending #1 ranking today, following her three set victory over Francesca Schiavone in Doha at the WTA Championships. The Dane became the youngest top-ranked player on tour since Martina Hingis in 1997.
Wozniacki's defeat of the French Open champ began on shaky ground, though. Her tennis in the opening set was erratic, reminding fans of her performance in her loss to Samantha Stosur yesterday.
But Wozniacki called her Coach, and father, Piotr in for a couple sideline chats, which seemed to flick the strategy switch in the youngster's mind. Her tactics changed, which showed other dimensions to her game most categorize as one-dimensional.
Wozniacki grit her teeth and went to work against an opponent that knows every square inch of a tennis court about as intimately as a cartographer knows geography from all corners of the globe.
She backed up in the court, played the loopy ball game until Schiavone was out of position enough for her to hit a winner. She moved her serve around the box and applied various spins. She shortened points, dismissing her usual defensive stance. She kept balls deep, too, which she didn't do yesterday against Stosur, gaving the Aussie tons of options.
But Wozniacki's mental strength and obsession to win was the base from where she constructed her comeback from a set down. Her pretty presentation, yellow fingernails, and blonde hair indicate absolutely nothing about her staying power. She sits at #1 because she is consistent in match results and blinded by the desire to keep her competitors at bay. She has the requisite genes that bind muscle to mind.
If she stays healthy -- an assumption for all young stars -- she could have the tennis world at her feet.
By beating Schiavone -- 36 61 61 -- she paraded possibilities of greatness, beyond being number one, which shouldn't be scoffed at although it would be super sweet if it were accompanied by, let's say, a couple major titles.
Going home at the end of the week will be exhilarating for the Dane, her family and friends. Imagine being twenty, hanging out with your buds, and having them look your way knowing you are THE BEST woman tennis player in the world!
From the youngest star to the one with the most longevity, all eyes were on Elena Dementieva and Samantha Stosur today as they captivated fans with a three-set thriller. It was the best match of the week.
In 2009, Dementieva and Stosur met three times, twice at grand slams: The Australian Open and The French Open. Stosur took two of those wins. She was rising on the charts and pressuring the guard. This year, they battled in the round of 16 in New York. Stosur edged the Russian in the third-set tiebreak.
Today was about taking a bit of revenge. In a reversal of the U. S. Open match, Dementieva edged Stosur in the third-set tiebreak, giving her a career head-to-head record of 5 and 2.
Breaks of serve were exchanged readily in the first two sets, but in the last one, neither woman yielded ground. You'd think that Stosur would have a bit of an edge in a tiebreak, given her serve and forehand combination. However, Dementieva's formidable return of serve seemed to stun Stosur and wear on her mind.
Elena's consistent deep, penetrating balls altered the veteran's trajectory today. Many would like to see her make the leap and capture this prestigious title. She remains a sentimental favorite.
Her win reminded us of her keen mental strength and her love of competition. It reminded us that the 12-year veteran could dig deep and overcome the ups and downs that infiltrate any and all matches.
In the third, and final, match from the Khalifa Tennis Complex, two-time champion Kim Clijsters took down Victoria Azarenka 64 57 61. The win assured Clijsters of her spot in Saturday's semifinals.
Clijsters is the most accomplished star in Doha. She's won the event twice, as was previously mentioned; and, she's the only woman here with a winning record. Additionally, she came in with three major titles. The only other player with a major on her resume is Schiavone.
What it takes now to persevere, as the week winds down and the hours on court accumulate, is a refined and mysterious mixture of experience, intuition and genetic grace. Most of us can admit that we could never ever compete anywhere close to the level we've witnessed this week from Doha, or any other week on tour. So to understand what happens behind the scenes for these eight elite players is just impossible. What we get in return for their dedication is brilliantly executed tennis and some of the best sports entertainment in the world.