x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Wozniacki lacks a 'great weapon' to justify her No 1 ranking

A limited arsenal could be a reason for her poor grand slam record, but she has time and inspiration from the past to turn it around.

Caroline Wozniacki has yet to win a major tournament.
Caroline Wozniacki has yet to win a major tournament.

As the US Open draws nearer, Caroline Wozniacki will find herself under increasing media scrutiny, and being reminded of her grand slam record ad nauseam.

Wozniacki, the women's world No 1 for the past 27 weeks and 45 weeks overall, has won 17 Tour singles titles and prize money nearing US$10 million (Dh36.7m).

She is has a Tour-leading five singles title this year, but in 18 visits to the grand slams, the Dane's best is the 2009 defeat to Kim Clijsters in the final of the US Open.

She has reached the last four only twice and her credentials as the top women's player are repeatedly questioned on the basis of those performances.

Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina, the two previous women's No 1s, faced a similar debate over their inability to win the majors, but Wozniacki can find inspiration from the impressive return of Clijsters to the Tour following her retirement in 2007.

The Belgian lost four of her first five grand slam finals, the lone win being the 2005 US final. Since returning in 2009, she is undefeated in major finals with two more US Open crowns and the Australian Open this year.

"In the past, it seemed I never played my best tennis in the grand slam finals," Clijsters said. "That was more frustrating than losing - knowing that I was unable to give my opponent the best Kim Clijsters. But that's the past. I've learnt from the ones I've lost."

Wozniacki, 20, is definitely gaining from her experiences, and no one is in doubt about her ability to win the majors, but Martina Hingis reckons she is missing a weapon to subdue her opponents.

"If she wants to win a grand slam, she's going to have to take charge more," said Hingis, who had won three grand slam titles before her 18th birthday. "She doesn't have one great weapon. You need that one little extra thing to overcome. Everyone is saying she hasn't won a slam, but maybe it's a question of time."

There is a long list of tennis stars who have failed to win a grand slam title. Marcelo Rios is the only men's world No 1 not to have won a major, despite 18 singles titles and $10m in prize money.

Tim Henman, Henri Leconte, Mark Philippoussis and Magnus Norman never reached the top of the rankings, but their inability to win a grand slam disappoints fans to this day.

On the women's side, you could put names like Pam Shriver, Elena Dementieva and Helena Sukova on that list. Given her injury woes, Safina could be on it sooner rather than later, but there is still time for Wozniacki to turn things around, and this could start at the US Open which gets underway on August 29.

arizvi@thenational.ae


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