The Real No. 1

Today Caroline Wozniacki played in her first Year End Championship in Doha. She lost 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 to current USO Champion and in case you did not get the memo, Mommy, Kim Clijsters.

As a long time fan of women’s tennis, I think Wozniacki is an able No. 1. There have been arguments made for or against her being No. 1 without winning a major. 2 years ago I was one of those who looked at Jankovic and Safina and said ‘how can you be No. 1 when you have not even won a major’. At that time, as is the case now, Serena Williams held 2 majors and had beaten both players rather handily in Grand Slam finals.

Wozniacki however is a different kettle of fish. The first time I saw her play was in an ITF event in Las Vegas. She was playing a Japanese veteran and she won that tournament rather handily. I felt at the time that her game needed more power as well as quite a few other things and I have to say that since that initial title when she was about 16 or 17 years old, Wozniacki has performed exceptionally well since playing a full season.

When Safina and Jankovic held the No. 1 rank, not only had they been in Grand Slam finals, but they had won Premier events as well. The difference for me is the way how Wozniacki has held up under the glare of the media spotlight and the way she has gone about her business on Tour. No drama. No crying to the heavens when her game has gone awry. No breaking down in tears during trophy ceremonies and no berating of herself when she loses a point. She is 20 years old and she is poised, confident, a smile on her face as she goes about her business. At times she is ice-cold in her temperament, especially when it comes to bagelling her opponents. She shows absolutely no mercy.

However, there is one thing about Wozniacki that I do not like, well 2 things really. I hate her forehand. I absolutely hate it. I play tennis and my forehand is my shot of choice. If I can run around my pathetic excuse for a backhand and rip a forehand, then I am one happy woman. As such I am always drawn to those players who can hit winners from the forehand side. Wozniacki needs to use the off-season to learn to hit through the ball on her forehand side. Most players have found a way to beat her (at least the good ones with forehands) and they go to that wing relentlessly until they inevitably get a short ball and she is dead to rights.

Another thing I do not particularly like about Wozniacki is her constant reliance on her father to come out and coach her. I think going into 2011 she should try her hardest at Tour level events not to call her father down court side. You cannot use it at the majors, and I think that is the main reason (and her forehand) why she has not been able to get to any more Grand Slam finals since her debut at the 2009 USO.

Wozniacki wears the mantle of No. 1 very well. She has received the blessing of the first family of women’s tennis, Venus and Serena Williams. She is articulate, employs good sportsmanship on the field and apart from a few instances of racquet throwing (something she really needs to stop) she has worn the mantle well.

I am not sure what the future holds for Caroline Wozniacki come 2011 but from where I sit she should at least make it to the final round of a major come 2011 and who knows she may just strike it rich and get one. After all, many before her who did not have half the talent that she has and did so, and I see no reason why Wozniacki cannot do the same.

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