At the end of the 2016 tennis season, I dealt with Caroline Wozniacki’s resurgence, praising her outstanding achievements after surviving a scary first round at the Us Open against Taylor Townsend.
Somehow, the Dane managed to defeat the young American girl, in an awful three-setter which was pretty much an unforced error party. And with big surprise, she eventually reached the semis! It’s actually hard to convey it in a rational way, but indeed 2016 US Open marked a new beginning in the tennis life of Caroline Wozniacki. Moreover, two weeks after the Grand Slam, she won the title Tokyo, and she conquered a second one in Hong Kong few weeks later. Hence, it was impossible not to have big expectations on her 2017.
And indeed, Wozniacki’s start of the season has been impressive thus far. It’s only the beginning of April, and the Dane has already reached the final in three occasions, i.e. Doha, Dubai, and Miami – respectively a Premier Event, a Premier 5 and a Premier Mandatory.
As we say in Italy, “mica pizza e fichi!”, which literally means “it’s not a matter of pizza or figs” but metaphorically it’s used referring to something that’s valuable and of a particularly high level, to state that is, indeed… not pizza or figs. Therefore, Wozniacki’s reaching the final in three tournaments of this caliber, is “mica pizza e fichi”!
What’s more, when she didn’t reach the final, her loss has always been against good and in-form players, and most of the time matches were thigh. Indeed, she lost in three sets both in Auckland and Sydney, and also in her most recent loss before the final, in Indian Wells, she fought hard before surrendering to French Kiki Mladenovic.
Summarizing, it’s just the end of the third month of 2017 tennis season, and the Dane
has already three finals, and losses after fighting hard in late stages of big tournaments. It seems gold.
And however, as my spoiler in the title of the article, it’s not as gold as it seems. And the reason is pretty easy: Wozniacki’s not able to win finals anymore. That may sound a bit strange, but all the finals she played in 2017 ended up with her losing in two sets, displaying awful tennis, and being overcome by players she could have easily defeated – and, sometimes, whom she actually defeated in a couple of weeks. And the problem, I think, is mental, more than anything else. The final of Miami, which ended a couple of hours ago, is the proof of my thesis. The Dane has been outclassed by Johanna Konta in two easy sets, after defeating world #3 Karolina Pliskova in the semis!
It would be unwise to accuse her game, her skills, her on-court attitude or her body health: no-one forgot that Wozniacki’s run the New York Marathon, and it’s one of the fittest – if not the fittest! – players on tour. She could stay on court for three hours and then come back the day after as if nothing happened, ready to stay there for other three or more hours.
Hence, it’s a mental issue. Every time Wozniacki reaches the final, she disappears and ends up outclassed by her opponent. She’d need an easy win in a WTA International, in order to put this ghosts away from her brain and be ready to – finally – win a Grand Slam title.
Indeed, winning a Grand Slam remains a dream which hasn’t come true for the Dane, who was able to become #1 in the world at the age of 20, to make at least a final in every Premier Mandatory and to win 25 WTA titles, in 45 finals. Impressive numbers, that’s for sure, but the cherry on top is still missing. From now until the US Open, she has just 10 points to defend – last year was full of injuries for her, and she missed the entire clay season. It’s pretty sure that she will climb in the top 10, and probably in the highest part of it, given the uncertainty of the WTA which I already discussed a couple of times.
Climbing the ranking means not only be seen first as one take a look at the rankings – of course! – but it means the possibility to gain an high seed, and to have easy first rounds at big tournaments – especially Grand Slams. That’s partially true, actually, since big tournaments, from the end of this month, on are going to have a special ghost that will haunt the first rounds of big tournaments: her name is Maria Sharapova, and I’m sure everyone knows her.
In conclusion, Wozniacki’s resurgence has been impressive, both at the end of 2016 and at the beginning of 2017. For sure, we are going to see her reaching late stages, even though clay has never been her favorite surface.
The hope is that she wins a title early as possible, in order to gain consistency and to be galvanized to never stop fighting for a Grand Slam title.
I’ll be honest: I’d cry for happiness if she wins it, and with open field available in WTA, chances aren’t but real… Good luck, Caroline!