x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Wozniacki's hard line of thought for grassy Wimbledon

Dane insists the hard court surface is 'great preparation' for grass transition.

Caroline Wozniacki finally made it on to the grass at Wimbledon to practise yesterday.
Caroline Wozniacki finally made it on to the grass at Wimbledon to practise yesterday.

LONDON // Caroline Wozniacki raised a few eyebrows when she opted to tune up for Wimbledon by competing at an indoor hard-court tournament but the Danish world No 1 was quick to explain what she hopes will be a winning formula for the grass-court major.

"I think it was a great preparation because to change from clay to grass straight away is pretty drastic, so I chose to take the middle way and go to hard court and from hard courts to grass and it feels good," the 20-year-old said in an interview on the eve of Wimbledon.

While most of the world's top women competitors gathered at various grass-court tournaments in England and the Netherlands following the French Open, Wozniacki hopped back home to play in Copenhagen.

Apart from the world No 1, the Danish Open failed to attract any other top-30 ranked player - suggesting that a hard-court tournament in the middle of the grass-court season had little appeal for the majority of the Wimbledon contenders.

But following the rest of the pack has little appeal for Wozniacki.

Earlier this year she turned up on court at the Qatar Open in a Liverpool shirt signed by football player Steven Gerrard, and on Saturday she announced she was a reporter from "the Monaco newspaper on Avenue Princess Grace" as she hijacked Novak Djokovic's news conference and grilled him for a few minutes.

After being turfed out of that conference by a red-faced WTA official, she explained why she was comfortable with her decision to play in Copenhagen, where she won the title without dropping a set.

"No I didn't [think it was a risk to play in Copenhagen]. I really feel comfortable and confident on the grass.

"I've gotten a week of practice here so I feel good," said Wozniacki, whose best run at Wimbledon is two fourth-round showings.

"I know I can play really well on grass. I've won Eastbourne before, I won the junior [Wimbledon] title. I know that I can play really good tennis.

"On grass it can be small things that decide a match and also the serve and the returns are key points at this point.

"I feel great. It's a great tournament, I really enjoy playing here, the atmosphere, the traditions, it's a fantastic event."

FIVE TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Bethany Mattek-Sands
The American is unlikely to win Wimbledon but she will certainly court her fair share of headlines. The 26-year-old is attracting more attention for her on-court fashion than her forehand. She has worn a leopard print outfit and a cowboy hat at grand slam events and turned up to the pre-Wimbledon ball wearing an outfit made of tennis balls.

Laura Robson
The darling of the women’s game in England. Sadly, she has a penchant for sacking coaches at the same speed as Andy Murray and has not really progressed as quickly as many hoped after she won the junior title at the age of 14. Now 17, she has undergone a rapid growth spurt and it is hoped Robson starts to come of age.

Jelena Dokic
Remember her? She knocked out Martin Hingis, the then No 1 player, in the first round of Wimbledon in 1999 at the age of just 16. A glittering career beckoned but, 12 years on, she is yet to win a slam and is unseeded this week. The Australian could be a handful if she rediscovers her top form.

Melanie Oudin
The gutsy 19 year old won three matches as a qualifier at Wimbledon in 2009 and reached the last eight of the US Open later that year.    She will need that form in an appetising first-round match with Ana Ivanovic.

Jelena Jankovic
Reaching the world No 1 spot in 2008 must seem a distant memory for this week’s 15th seed. Her resurgence could start at SW19.

* Kevin Affleck