Over the next two weeks, the first serve series will be previewing our top male and female players and top returnees as we build up to the first grand slam of the year. We’ll analyze what they’ve got going for them and what they need to do to be successful in 2018.
Caroline Wozniacki has been exactly where Simona Halep is right now. She belongs to an infamous group of WTA players who have attained the #1 ranking without ever winning a grand slam title. She also shared the same limitations with Simona. They are both petite girls playing in a big girl’s tour packed to the brim with power hitters and screamers. Their defensive counterpunching games will always make them vulnerable, particularly deep in tournaments where they have to fight through two or more power players just to win the title.
This has been Wozniacki’s plight for almost of all her career. There aren’t many other ladies fitter than ‘Woz’ as she is fondly called, and her ball striking abilities are unquestioned. Her lack of a go-to weapon has always been her Achilles heel and it remained so until something happened last year at the WTA finals. Wozniacki finally found her weapon. In truth, we should have known all along. Wozniacki is after all the WTA’s version of David Goffin – supremely talented, but lacking the body weight to do damage with their near perfect strokes. At both tours’ final tournaments, they found something that can only be summarized in one word. Aggressiveness.
For Caroline Wozniacki, it was liberating to see her produce the kind of tennis she produced at the WTA finals. So complete was her game, so clear was her mind in what she wanted to do and so flawless was her execution, that none of her opponents had any answers whatsoever. All of a sudden, it was Wozniacki who was blowing her opponents off the court and eventually winning the title on the back of her sizzling tennis. That victory propelled her to World Number 3 in the WTA ranking and gives her a chance to become world number 1 at the Australian Open. Should she win the tournament, she would have returned to the number one ranking while finally shedding that badge of World number one who never won a major. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
All of this brings us to the million dollar question. Can Caroline Wozniacki carry her 2017 form, particularly the form she showed at the WTA finals to this season? It is certainly possible. She is through to the Quarterfinals at Auckland. The one thing I believe Wozniacki should watch out for is getting into unnecessary distractions or negative exchanges. She did so with Maria Sharapova at the U.S Open, and judging by her words, the thought of not playing on a show court might have weighed on her enough to lose the match she did in New York.
At this point in her career, Caroline should be all about the slams. With her newfound aggressiveness, I do not see why she cannot pull it off. It won’t be easy with the return of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova continuing to play herself into form, but it can be done. We’ll know which Woz shows up for business at the Australian Open, soon.