Doha contender: Caroline Wozniacki
Originally published on: 19/10/10 09:33
Birthplace: Odense, Denmark
WTA ranking: No.1
Season best: Won – Ponte Vedra Beach, Copenhagen, Montreal, New Haven, Tokyo, Beijing. Runner Up- Indian Wells
Season win/loss record: 59-15
Prize money (2010): $3,241,488
Record vs. top eight: Vera Zvonareva 3-3; Serena Williams 0-2; Kim Clijsters 0-1; Francesca Schiavone 1-2; Sam Stosur 2-2; Jelena Jankovic 0-4; Elena Dementieva 4-3
2010 Grand Slam record: Australian Open R16; Roland Garros QF; Wimbledon R16; US Open SF
WTA Championships best: Making her second appearance after reaching semis on debut last year.
Season review: Well, what a year for the newly crowned world No.1. The 20-year-old secured an impressive six titles (four WTA Premier) this year to help her overtake Serena Williams at the top of the tree.
It’s easy to forget – given that the Dane has acquired titles right, left and centre during her stellar season – but Wozniacki got off to a pretty sluggish start in 2010. Na Li proved a thorn in her side on two occasions; first she dumped her out of the Sydney tournament in round one, and more significantly, the Chinese woman knocked her out of the Australian Open in round four.
Wozniacki began to kick into gear come the spring hard court season in America, where she reached the Indian Wells final before losing to Jelena Jankovic. A quarter-final loss to Justine Henin in Miami followed, before she secured her first title of the year in Ponte Vedra Beach and followed up with a semi-final finish in Charleston.
Early exits in four clay tournaments ahead of Roland Garros didn’t give her the best preparation for the French Open, but she raised her game to reach the last eight for the first time in Paris, where she was defeated by eventual champ Francesca Schiavone.
A low point of her season came on the grass of Wimbledon as she suffered a landslide 6-2 6-0 defeat to world No.62 Petra Kvitova, whose speedy game was too slick for the Dane.
Perhaps beneficial, the defeat spurred Wozniacki on as the tour returned to her favoured hard courts. She captured several titles in quick sucession – first in front of a partisan crowd in Copenhagen, before claiming back-to-back victories in Montreal and New Haven.
Her form pushed the 11-time titlist forward as one of the favourites to capture the US Open title at Flushing Meadows, but the 2009 runner-up fell to Russia’s Vera Zvonareva in the last four just as she eyed up the ultimate prize.
Out in the Far East, she grabbed two more titles – in Tokyo and Beijing – to confirm her status as the world’s best.
Last year’s WTA Championships: After a gruelling 11 months, the youngster surprised many with her fighting performances in Doha. Far from eyeing the off-season and a well earned rest after her exploits in reaching a maiden Grand Slam final in New York, Wozniacki sealed an impressive three-set victory over Victoria Azarenka, before a straight sets defeat to Jelena Jankovic saw her hopes of reaching the semis rest on her match with Vera Zvonareva.
It turned out to be a physical and emotional rollercoaster for the Dane, who, after taking the first set at a canter, was pegged back by the Russian and lost the second on a tiebreak. In swelteringly humid conditions, the Dane showed remarkable strength of character to pull through the match after writhing on the floor with all-over body cramps in a teary finale.
Her semi-final with eventual-champ Serena Williams proved one match too far for the teenager, who – with a heavily strapped leg – retired in the second set.
Chances: A year on, Wozniacki is fitter, feistier and even more determined as she heads up the eight-strong field in Doha. With or without Serena, the world No.1 will arguably go in as firm favourite to secure her biggest title to date.