‘Walking Wounded’ Caroline Wozniacki Faces Uphill Struggle Ahead of US Open

Since winning the Australian Open 2018, there is a fierce determination to Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki. A Wozniacki Slam this season was definitely foreseeable. Unfortunately, she has not hit the same heights since January.

A Winless, Injury Laden North American Hard-court Season So Far

A left knee injury and a strapped shoulder ensured that Caroline Wozniacki cut a forlorn figure at the Western & Southern Open. Kiki Bertens is the beneficiary of Wozniacki’s  withdrawal, but in truth, it could have been any player. Early signs are that there is still the intention to play the US Open. However, it would be remarkable if Wozniacki was to arrive at Flushing Meadows even 50% fit. The most ardent Wozniacki fan will have the 3rd round of the US Open down as a great achievement, under the circumstances.

Even When Fit Wozniacki Still has to Grapple with the Demon of Complacency

Last season aside, the US Open seems Wozniacki’s most comfortable Slam. The Dane will be uber keen to erase memories of a loss to Ekaterina Makarova in the 2nd round last year. This was the Dane’s first loss to the Russian in eight meetings. Arguably, she was distracted by a scheduling spat with Maria Sharapova.

Wozniacki showed at Wimbledon this season that she is still susceptible to complacency. The defense-minded Makarova struck again in the 2nd round of a Slam, taking the head-to-head deficit to 7-2 in Wozniacki’s favour. Agonizingly for Wozniacki, this slip-up came at a time when she was playing the best tennis on grass of her career. Previously she looked a class act on the surface swooping to the title at Eastbourne. Wozniacki is still the last player to beat Angelique Kerber on grass. Yet, still she lost a can’t-lose match to Makarova. Injury or not, there will always be that enigmatic side to Caroline Wozniacki.

Wozniacki Still Seeking to go One Better than 2009 & 2014’s Runner-Up Spot at Flushing Meadows

Twice runner-up at the US Open – it’s still a tad surprising that the Australian Open was the breakthrough Slam. However, it’d be difficult to argue against Caroline Wozniacki deserving a 2nd Slam. This is especially given her usual consistency, particularly at the US Open. The Dane had, before Wimbledon 2018, looked more solid since her shock Makarova defeat at Flushing Meadows last year.

The first thing that Caroline Wozniacki will do upon publication of this year’s US Open draw is to look at when she might meet Makarova. The Dane is probably more wary of Makarova than any other player in the draw, with Sabalenka just behind in the fear factor stakes for the Dane.

Tough Start to North American Hard-courts

Even before the injury withdrawal, Wozniacki has had a torrid time of things in North America. Although the Dane beat Aryna Sabalenka on grass to win the Eastbourne title, Sabalenka hit 64 winners to send Wozniacki crashing out of the WTA Rogers Cup. Hard-court rustiness and a strapped leg didn’t make the Dane’s start to the North American hard-court season easy. Wozniacki would also be wary of a meeting with Sabalenka. It’s been a slow start to her hardcourt return, though Wozniacki did show enough against Sabalenka to suggest that when fit, she is not far off hitting top form.

Wozniacki Will Need Elongated Rest After US Open if She Makes It There

This is not shaping up to be the best end to the Slam season that Wozniacki nor her fans will have envisioned, a few months back. The US Open represented a great opportunity for a two Slam season for the former world number 1. At the moment, it’s in the balance as to whether or not she will line-up or get through a round if she does. Flushing Meadows may come too soon.

To rub salt into the various Wozniacki wounds, arch nemesis Sharapova is the one who could benefit from the Dane’s woes. The Russian is slowly returning to pre-ban form.

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