7 finals, 1 title but this season has been a success for Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki has not been a stranger to finals this year but has been a stranger to titles. Before arriving in Tokyo the Dane was 0/6 in the finals this year but for a player who has featured in almost 800 matches at 27 years old she has been through a lot.

This title in Tokyo was another landmark for Caro not only her 26th career title but also her 10th year running winning a title on the tour and wins against Cibulkova and Muguruza propelled her to 10 top 10 wins this calendar year which is a career high for her.

It’s too easy to look at the stats from the finals and see 7 finals and 1 titles and can quickly turn around and say a poor year but they would be unfair and naïve.

US Open last year Caro was outside top 60 in the world and is now guaranteed to be at the WTA Finals in Singapore next month and has managed to stay injury free and on a whole I would say it has been a success.

The only issue I would have is Grand Slams especially the US Open. Caro and the US Open is such a special time for her and it was in a fact that securing her 100th grand slam singles win and qualify for the WTA Finals for the first time in three years.

There is still so much to play for and picking up another titles, record number of top 10 years and a return to the WTA finals is a success a better run in New York would have been nice to see but no-one has a ‘perfect season’ but it can get better in the final 5 weeks.

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Wozniacki and Sharapova exchange words over scheduling…

Caroline Wozniacki has hit out at the USTA for their scheduling and she is spot on!

Last year Caro came into New York ranked outside the top 70 in the world but she fought hard and is now ranked 5 in the world and incredibly got pushed out on one of the outside courts 5th on court so Sharapova could play on Ashe…

Wozniacki said she thought it was unacceptable that the world number 5 was put 5th on court 5 after 11am. She went on to question the USTA’s decision to have all of Sharapova’s matches on centre which doesn’t send out the best message for a player returning from a drugs ban.

I’m totally with Wozniacki with the fact it doesn’t set a good example but the organisers have shown what is more important with scheduling and that is money.

Since Wozniacki’s comments Sharapova has hit back…

“Regards to scheduling, as you know I don’t make the schedule. And you know I’m a pretty big competitor and if you put me out in the parking lot at queens in New York City I’m happy to play there. That’s not what matters to me, all that matters is that I’m in the fourth round and I’m not sure where she is. (Wozniacki lost in R1)”

Ouch…

The debate will go on every tournament and I am with Wozniacki as it doesn’t send out the correct message and if anything has been welcomed back with open arms but at the same time Sharapova doesn’t have a say on where she plays.

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Why this former finalist might be favourite to make her mark in New York

Everyone wants to win. Many have, many still dream. Recent champions include Angie Kerber, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and of course Flavia Pennetta. One lady who has made the final before could be about to make her mark again and is no stranger to pleasing crowds in New York.

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This iconic picture from 2014 is Caroline Wozniacki in a nutshell. The passion, determination and fight she shows on court is second to none. Her performance against Sharapova at Flushing Meadows three years is probably my favourite performance of all time.

Wozniacki is a player who has been on the tour for so long. She has seen so much and achieved so much but what is missing from her trophy cabinet is a Grand Slam title. She’s come close in New York twice before making the final on two previous occasions and with no Serena or potentially Maria as we don’t know what will happen there it is up for grabs and the only previous champions taking part potentially this year are Angie Kerber who has been in poor form this year, Venus Williams who has made two grand slam finals this year and surprise winner from 2011 Sam Stosur.

It’s a possibility but the coming weeks are important for Wozniacki as preparations as necessary and the decision to play in Sweden this week is one I think is a great decision as she bids to find confidence and consistency going into the final major of the year.

Why has Wozniacki struggled in finals this year? Is a lack of anticipation part of the problem?

So far so good for Caroline Wozniacki but it could have been better. Caro is one of the form players on the tour this year getting back up to a ranking of 12 in the world but in the race to Singapore she is sat a number three with just Karolina Pliskova and Johanna Konta ahead of her with Sinagpore just under 200 days away.

Three finals isn’t bad at all but what you are judged on at the end of the day is how many of those finals have you won? For Caro she is yet to pick up a piece of silverware this season but why is that?

I watch a lot of Wozniacki’s matches on tour and have watched her over the years so many time and I like her never giving up/giving in style of play but somethings been missing in these finals and on too many big points I’d have to say she seems to be more of a spectator in these big points rather than that usual anticipation and skill you ususally see in her game and now I’m going to look at a couple of points from to finals this year.

Elina’s passing shot

Passing shots in the first set in Doha were too high for a player who is as smart as Wozniacki and covers the ground so well it should have been 1000 times better but credit to Elina as well let’s not forget who during the match gave herself that extra split second to make a brave, bold and subsequently a right decision!

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Covering the court is Caroline Wozniacki’s bread and butter and a point she should have won. Looking at her body position she seems to be waiting for that backhand into body (blue line) and is set to play that close to the body volley over the net but doesn’t seem to think about that backhand passing shot and when she does react it’s too late and she went on to lose the set in that game.

Lessons weren’t learnt v Konta…

Wozniacki’s worst loss of the season to date based on games won was against Konta in Melbourne and from then to the Miami final lesson’s weren’t really learnt from the Dane who failed to upset the Brit’s rhythm from the baseline. This is Caroline Wozniacki who we are talking about who is usually so good at moving these baselines and making them run but she never asked questions and here is a point from the final in Miami which frustrated me.

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Right now Caro is in this position due to a poor return. Now you can see above I’ve put together three options off this backhand from Caro. The cross court is unlikely, it would take perfect connection to rotate and hit such a low and dangerous shot is tough. The backhand down the line is on at this point but would need early contact on the ball but the shot that she played was down the middle which isn’t a bad idea but against Konta if you don’t get that depth in rallies you set yourself up for a difficult afternoon.

Time is something that Konta thrives on but Caro didn’t seem to anticipate it much at all and played into her strengths time and time again we saw too much of Konta lining up that forehand cross court or down the line and wasn’t under pressure.

Going forward?

Clay next for the Dane who will be hoping for some good results, she doesn’t have too many points to defend and conditions in Stuttgart in particular would favour her I believe!

Wozniacki fights back and is now just 1 win from Miami title!

It has been quite some time since Caroline Wozniacki won a Premier Mandatory title in fact the last time was just over six years ago at Indian Wells where she saw off Marion Bartoli but standing in her way of her first title of the season is Johanna Konta.

After a steady start to the year she has begun to find some form and to do it at one of the biggest tournaments outside of the majors is great for her.

The game has always been on her racket from the first time on tour but something that had been lacking for a while over the last few years is that digging out results regularly but this week she has had to fight and used all her weapons expertly and at the right time as she progresses to another final.

You have to credit Caro on what she has achieved and in some high pressure situations as well. She was down in the first set against Muguruza in a previous round and fought back to dominate the tie-breaker and then of course the Spaniard retired due to feeling unwell but to completely turn around as she did against Pliskova is a greater achievement.

Pliskova is the lead in the race to Singapore this year and started their semi-final very quickly with a break of serve with some clever backhands and this continued throughout the set as the Czech showed some solid serving and defending to take the set 7-5 and then the Dane turned on her magic.

The movement was better and she started creeping her shots towards the baseline forcing Pliskova to play a more instinctive style of play from the baseline instead of a controlled one. At the same time Pliskova’s served dropped dramatically with just 29% of first serves in play which is unheard for her and once Wozniacki got a hold she had no response her.

To go from taking a set 7-5 to then winning 2 of the next 14 games as she lost 7-5 1-6 1-6 to the former world number one is tough to take but one to learn from and importantly move on quickly from.

After wins against Safarova, Muguruza and Pliskova already this week standing in her way of her first title of the year is Britain’s Jo Konta!

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Dane’s defence too good for Bellis in Dubai

Sometimes in tennis you get taught a tough lesson and after her great win yesterday against Aga Radwanska the American teenager ran into a resilient Caroline Wozniacki playing her 9th match in 9 days across two tournaments which takes it out of most but not the Dane.

Caro held for the first game of the opening set but then Bellis found a bit of momentum and started hitting really strongly off the backhand which propelled her to a 3-1 lead against the Dane and then things started to fall apart.

Caro had a slow start yesterday and today but she knows what she needs to do and the defence went up and she grafted back into the set winning 5 games in a row to close it out to take a 6-3 lead before extending this to 4-0 playing with the style of come and break me down!

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The Dane’s defence was pretty exceptional and the yellow highlighted area shows the area she had covered against the American who tried her best to break down Caro but couldn’t and from almost impossible positions on the court kept rallies going and broke down the attack of the young American.

Another thing looking at the graphic I put together was the lack of depth Caro got on shots majority of the time. I talk about aggressive and depth being important which it is but also being aggressive behind the baseline and not always needing to paint the lines is essential as a player like Wozniacki plants that seed of doubt by getting to those extra balls and it’s a tough lesson to come up against a player who just nullifies any attack who has achieved so much and learnt so much in her career.

 

Wozniacki leaves it late to see of Bondarenko to advance in Dubai

Finalist in Doha last week and Caroline Wozniacki is on the right path for another good week on the tour after a hard-fought win against Bondarenko late at night in Dubai to seal her place in the next round.

The Dane didn’t get off to a good start, it took her until mid-way during the second set until she started to find that rhythm we saw constantly last week but when she turned it on it wasn’t just about turning on the style but her game plan was controlled and just effective.

Something she did introduce which you watch but probably don’t think much about is ‘moon ball’. Wozniacki has the defensive skills to keep rallies going and going and throwing this shot in just intised Bondarenko into trying this flying backhand which turned into a disaster for the Ukranian who produced error after error off it and continued to get frustrated.

When the Dane is at her best she paints the lines and with the backhand she started to find her range with the forehand as well cross court pulling Bondarenko across the court. It wasn’t a vintage Wozniacki performance but one she can turn back on and say job done as she reaches her fourth quarter final of the year which is the most of any player on the WTA Tour this year!