Caroline Wozniacki produced a magnificent performance to win the biggest title of her career at the WTA Finals. The Dane defeated the great Venus Williams for the first time ever after having lost all seven previous meetings with the legend. Wozniacki has been in immense form all week and she was able to successfully translate that level into her match with Williams. Venus was searching for career title number 50, whereas Wozniacki was competing in her 50th final.
The final was an absolute classic. From the first ball both players were playing spectacular tennis and the fans in Singapore knew they were in for a real treat. The Dane broke the American’s serve on the second time of asking, only for Venus to break back immediately. Williams was really taking it to Wozniacki and attacked at every opportunity and it reminded us why Venus held a 7-0 head-to-head over the Dane. In this match up, everything is in William’s hands, if she plays well she will win because she dictates play, whereas Wozniacki remains solid and reacts.
The match was becoming seriously entertaining as both players were bringing the best out of each other. Wozniacki broke the Williams serve with a superb forehand down the line winner after a lung busting 22-shot rally. Just like before, Venus broke back straight away with an equally impressive backhand down the line. The Dane remained competitive and was gifted the set from Williams–who hit four forehand errors when serving to stay in the opener. You simply cannot afford to do that against a player as solid as Wozniacki. The statistics were very positive from the Dane: 10 winners, 3 unforced errors. It was only the second time that Wozniacki had taken the first set off of Venus Williams.
The match continued to go the way of the world #6 as more and more errors leaked into the game of Venus Williams. This was combined with the authority that Wozniacki was striking her forehand with, something we have never seen her do before consistently–even when she was #1. She was becoming far too solid for her opposition and managed to clinch an early break. The consistent, slow bounce of the court helped the Dane find her rhythm and she began oozing with confidence. Back-to-back aces gave Wozniacki a seemingly unassailable 5-0 lead, but you can never count the 7-time Grand Slam champion out.
Nerves seemed to get to Wozniacki and maybe she was thinking too much about the finish line. This was evident as she was extremely tentative when serving for the championship for the first time. Williams stayed ice cool under pressure and wrestled back the momentum to reduce the deficit to only one break. The Dane failed to close it out once again as the American broke serve with a scintillating forehand passing shot winner which has to be the point of the match. However, it was too little too late from the 2008 champion, and Wozniacki showed great resilience to give herself another opportunity to win this epic. The Dane stuck to her game and claimed victory with a trademark backhand passing shot down the line. She threw her racket into the air in pure excitement as she had won the biggest title of her successful career.
Caroline Wozniacki is a Deserving Champion
Wozniacki said in her post match interview, “I saw games flying by and balls flying by me. I was praying she would make some errors in the end. I got lucky.” The Dane demonstrated outstanding mental fortitude in winning this match. She was facing a player she had never beaten and had been pegged back after having a sizable 5-0 lead. Not to mention her record in finals this year, which surely played in the back of her mind; she had lost six of her seven finals this year before claiming the WTA Finals. “8 is my lucky number,” the Dane said on her losing streak to Venus, “I was thinking if it’s not today, it’s never going to happen.”
As a result of this enormous win, Caroline Wozniacki finishes 2017 as the world #3–her best year end ranking since 2011 and coincidentally, Venus Williams will also enjoy her best year end ranking since 2010, at #5. The Dane is only 160 points away from Simona Halep, the World #1, which means the fight for the top spot will start in the first week of 2018. Elina Svitolina, the world #6, is only 675 points behind Halep which means the first few tournaments of next season will be gripping.
The title in Singapore is the Dane’s second of the year, adding to her win in Tokyo. She has now won at least one title every year since 2008–remarkable consistency. It is also a 27th career title for the 27-year-old and there are definitely many more on the way. Wozniacki also finishes the season as the tour-leader with 60 wins to her name, the fourth time that the Dane has won at least 60 matches in a single year. Wozniacki’s win means that it is the third straight season where the winner of the WTA Finals has failed to reach a Slam final that year after Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominica Cibulkova won in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
2017 has been a real fairy-tale year in terms of story lines and comebacks so let us not forget the amazing journey Wozniacki has been on in the last two years. An ankle injury in 2016 forced her to miss an important chunk of the year and her ranking plummeted. Shortly after Wimbledon last year she fell out of the top 50 for the first time since 2008. To finish the next year as #3 in such a short amount of time is a real testament to her character and desire. The road back to the top has been tough because tournament draws are down to luck so the Dane is a real inspiration.
Undoubtedly the Best Player of the Week
Caroline Wozniacki was simply on fire this week. She won a 6-0 set in each of her round robin matches and it required a massive effort from Caroline Garcia to defeat the Dane. Wozniacki won 9 out of the 11 sets she played this week, which is seriously impressive considering that only the best eight players in the world can play this tournament. In her five matches, the Dane hit a combined 89 winners and 50 errors, which shows just how well she was playing and how little she was giving her opponents. To win the WTA Finals, Wozniacki had to defeat the World #1, #3, #4 and #5 – the Dane was simply the best this week.
Fantastic End to 2017
The final of the WTA Finals was reminiscent of the entire year on the WTA tour: entertaining, exciting, enthralling. Caroline Wozniacki showed us why she is one of the most consistent players out there while Venus demonstrated why she is such a great champion. Williams stayed in that match when she was down and showed glimpses of why she is such a legend of the sport. “I didn’t seem to come up with my best tennis until it was too late. I’ll try and play a little better next time.” It is this ability to assess a loss so quickly that makes Venus Williams the champion she is. Can she win a Grand Slam title next year after having lost two finals this year? We will have to see.
Caroline Wozniacki has enjoyed a terrific year which has ended with her winning the biggest title of her career. She has won 60 of her 81 matches this year and time is most definitely on her side–she is only 27 years old. The Dane is a deserving champion at the WTA Finals in Singapore and she can use this as a platform for even greater things in 2018. Perhaps she can win the only thing missing from her resume: a Grand Slam title. Based on the way she played this week, it is only a matter of time.
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