On the Baseline Tennis News
December 26, 2008
With 2008 coming to a close, it’s time once again to ask the burning question: which tennis stars will shine the brightest in 2009?
This year, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by an up-and-comer who has emerged from the pack. (And no, it’s not another Russian phenom.) When 2008 began, few people had heard of Caroline Wozniacki, an 18-year-old player from Denmark.
But then again, Denmark has not exactly been a hotbed of top-ranked players. With only 2 Danish players in the top 400, I’d be surprised if they had more than 5 tennis courts in the whole country (ok, it’s probably more).
Despite the odds, Caroline Wozniacki has not only become the pride of Denmark, but has quickly become a power-player with top 20 status.
Wozniacki kicked off 2008 ranked at No. 64. During the first few months of the season, she consistently cranked out third and fourth round wins in just about every tournament she entered. But almost out of nowhere, Wozniacki stepped up her game by snagging two impressive WTA victories during the summer season—one in Stockholm, the other in New Haven, and had a solid 3rd round run at the Olympics. Not bad, considering she was the only singles player to represent Denmark at the Olympics.
Wozniacki went on to play (and win) on the big stages like the US Open, making it all the way to the 4th round, losing to eventual runner-up, Jelena Jankovic. She also won her first WTA doubles title this year at the China Open, with doubles partner, Anabel Medina Garrigues, and later won the AIG Japan Open in singles, cinching her 3rd WTA singles title of 2008. Alize Cornet of France, who played (and lost) against Wozniacki at the Pilot Pen says, “If you want to win against Caroline, you have to play at 100%.”
Wozniacki’s rise to the top also coincided with the abrupt retirement of former No. 1 player, Justine Henin. It’s clear that Henin’s departure changed the dynamic of the top 20, leaving the door wide open for up-and-comers like Wozniacki to sneak in. And that she did. Coming off an impressive 2008 season, Wozniacki rose 51 points to end the season at No. 12.
At an age where most players are struggling to find their game, 18 year-old Wozniacki has already outplayed the best of the best, and her powerful, baseline-style game continues to become more of a threat every time she steps onto a court.
Despite her current status as an elite top 20 player, you may be surprised to learn that Wozniacki has never set foot inside of a tennis academy. She came up in the ranks with the guidance of her parents, and is even coached by her father, a former soccer player from Poland.
When asked about her success on the WTA tour, Wozniacki says, “I enjoy playing for a big crowd. When you’re in the finals, you don’t have anything to lose. It’s about enjoying every second.”
As she heads into 2009, Wozniacki is poised to take her game to greater heights. Her final win-loss record for the year (ITF matches included, exhibition matches not included) is 58–20 in singles.
Expect to see great things from Caroline Wozniacki in 2009.