August 24th, 2011
03:00 PM ET

Is Wozniacki feeling the weight of world number one?

Caroline Wozniacki has reached the top of tennis' world rankings despite not winning a grand slam title.
Caroline Wozniacki has reached the top of tennis' world rankings despite not winning a grand slam title.

A number one ranking can be a blessing and a curse, just ask Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina.

It is right that praise follows an athlete who has reached the summit of their sport, but it can become a burden if this feat has been acheived without claiming a grand slam.

To the layman it makes no sense. To the critic it undermines the credibility of the rank. Since Wozniacki of Denmark became the WTA Tour’s top-ranked player, it is a question mark that has hung over her career.

In each press conference, the question is asked multiple times and in slightly different ways. It must grate on her that she is unable to silence such dissent with a major trophy.

Being the fun-loving girl she is, she’s tried to play it off, to say she’s not worried, and that she’s young so there’s still time. But the questions are corrosive and increasing the pressure at every slam event.

Having ended her full-time coaching relationship with her father, Wozniacki has employed a new unknown coach to guide her through the rough time she’s having at the moment.

She’s simply had a terrible few months of form and is clearly struggling with her confidence, which every athlete knows is incredibly hard to build back up. Tennis is all about key points and when you don’t feel confident, things can go awry at the worst moments.

Everybody knows the 21-year-old is a great defensive player, but has so far lacked the weapons to beat tennis’ top stars.

Right now she’s having problems with the mid-ranked players too. So maybe a fall in the rankings could benefit her game?

That way, she will no longer have to answer “the” question that applies the pressure. The reality is that she is young and does have time, plenty of it, to win at least one major title.

From what I know of her, she loves being on the Tour and is very sociable with other players which isn’t too common amongst the very best in the women’s game.

It’s pretty much accepted that the top 10 or so, generally keep themselves to themselves, in order to have an edge over the others.

But Caroline has shown that you can be friendly with others off the court, and be competitive on it. She’s a real personality and an asset to the Tour, so I hope her recent run of bad luck and poor form hasn’t soured her career irreversibly.

She does need to build up her game and be more aggressive on the big points, but that won’t happen overnight. She needs time and patience. By dropping to world number two, she will gain more of both.

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Filed under:  Tennis
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. willie tham

    she does lack lots of strokes to be the best in the world. despite that i love her for what she is, overcome your weaknesses and you will be the best as you can be.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  2. Alehandro

    Love to know if the players pay as much attention to their world rankings as the media does. This article suggests Wozniaki is not winning majors due to the pressure of being number one, but I find it hard to believe that she walks on court every day with her ranking uppermost in her mind. To me she's not won a major because she doesn't have an outstanding weapon. I also believe that when you take Serena out of the equation the women's game is so mediocre right now that anyone can beat anyone else on a given day. You therefore need a bit of luck to lift a major trophy and Wozniaki has simply misfired at the wrong time. I can't see how her luck, attitude or weaponry would change significantly by being lower ranked. In fact, if it turns out that the rankings DO matter to the players she'd then have the additional pressure of battling to regain top spot. But the real problem is not the pressure of where a player is ranked but the ranking system itself. It's overly complex and convoluted and doesn't reward Grand Slam success as highly as it should compared to other tournaments. If it did, Wozniaki would not be number-one so there'd be no real or theoretical burden to bear. Personally, I feel for her, as she's a victim of the system and shouldn't have to apologize for her unwarranted status as the world's top female player.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  3. MrSarcasm

    No one really cares, unless she stops wearing those tennis skirts. Then we have a problem.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Reply
  4. Per Bak

    Indeed Caroline is a wonderful tennis player, with a charming personality.
    She is a little bit off her top performance at the moment, but she will be back at some of the major tournaments later this year or early next year.
    At 21 she has just become an adult with a boyfriend, and without daddy´s continuous surveillance. She will come back even stronger, be assured.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  5. Bayar

    World's #1 itself says a lot. She is the nicest.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Reply


    August 25, 2011 at 1:50 am | Reply
  7. Albert

    Wozniacki doesn't have the game to win a Slam. She's too defensive. It's tough for her to go from a defensive mindset to an offensive one when it becomes the foundation of your whole game. That tactic can work against the lesser players but not consistently against the Serena, Venus, Maria and Kim's in the tennis world.

    August 25, 2011 at 2:29 am | Reply
  8. Jake

    She will never win anything

    August 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  9. eric all

    i think she is clever to get to no. one anyway!.people are cruel. i wish her lots of luck.

    August 26, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  10. Margaret Rayner

    I agree with Candy, Caroline Wozniacki's game has dropped lately with the pressure of changing coaches and also the high profile of Rory being seen in her box. She is young after all, and has spent the last few years dedicated to tennis, so she is spreading her wings a little, but I am sure it is only temporary.
    By the standard of the ladies tennis recently, especially Li Nah I think they are running out of steam and getting injured!! I only hope they can produce some decent tennis for the Open next week, the last of the year.

    August 27, 2011 at 9:12 am | Reply
  11. Mr.Peter

    Caro is not worried, daddy is not worried, so I am not worried if she will stay nr. 1 or win a slam... Her and her team are very realistic, and it is realistic that she currently plays like a top 10 player, and realistic that she will not win a slam this year or next year. Obviously, she would like to stay nr.1 and win some slams, but she is a good solid danish girl, with a positive view on the future, with slams or no slams, and hopefully stay top 10.

    August 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  12. Oliver

    The media should also ask the grand slam winners: since you're so good you can win a slam, why aren't you number one?
    It's unfair questions to ask, the players doesn't make the ranking system. They're just playing to win every game and depending on how the system is made you get a certain rank.
    I believe we haven't seen Caroline play her best yet through a whole grand slam but once she does, I'm sure she can win. She was in the US open final in 2009. She will do it sometime.

    August 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  13. Glynn

    Maybe its simply because she plays a lot more tennis than the 'stars' so albeit she can't beat them shes more respected because at least shes visible in places other than the big tournaments.

    September 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  14. bill

    Candy, it would have been great to provide some historical perspective on the women's tour. Caroline keeps on saying that she is "still young" yet we know that Hingis did it at 16 years, Venus at 17 years. At 18 Serena won French Open in 1999, won Autralian Open double the same year etc. As a seasoned sports personality, it would have been great to inform us of what others have done at around that age.

    September 11, 2011 at 10:35 am | Reply
  15. Christian

    Hello Candy Reid:

    [Having ended her full-time coaching relationship with her father, Wozniacki .

    September 11, 2011 at 10:40 am | Reply
  16. andy

    let me call her caroline [snow white ]i feel serena try to make a point that she is the number one, but caroline [snow white] is the futher of tennis and she know what is required to come up to the higher standerd so go back to the drawing board and come better prepare next time caroline [snow white] dont feel bad come back fighting i love to see you play andy form trinidad and tobago

    September 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  17. dan

    She's definately not in the same league as Graff, Navratilova, Henin, Serena, Venus, etc.. But there still is no reason she cannot win a slam. That she hasn't capitalized on the weak women's tour only makes things worse. No reason she couldn't go toe to toe with La Ni, Schiavone, or the Wimbledon champ. She has just failed to capitalize on the moment. She has time, but who knows when the next real champion is going to show up and start dominating.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:00 am | Reply
  18. Racam

    To put it simply, she is just too feminine to go up against most of the women on tour. She is dainty and not willing to go the extra mile. Of course I am basing my opinion on the one match against Serena. She has a lot of good strokes but doesn't get around the court well.

    September 12, 2011 at 3:05 am | Reply
  19. Mo Melotti

    It's obvious that Wozniaki feels less pressure to win week in and week out at the regular tour tournaments than at the Grand Slams... and she has her Number 1 ranking courtesy of a few real contenders not playing in those same tournaments week in and week out... Wozniaki is not underachieving so much as she is, possibly, over-ranked; a Grand Slam semi-final is a good result. –Mo, USPTA Professional-Jeddah, KSA

    September 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  20. markdbiram2011

    wozniacki is a great player, stil developing of course. look how late novotna and schiavone won grand slams. they won when they were 29 if i'm not mistaken. i'd be very surprised if wozniacki doesn't win 2 or 3 grand slams somewhere in her twenties.

    i agree with the general theme of the article. the no.1 rank does add pressure. at tournaments like wimbledon the williams used to regularly roll up as seed no 25 or something like, and everyone (like the bookies) knew they were really 1st or 2nd favourites not 25th, so the numbers game can be misleading, representing tournaments played rather than the who is best.

    caroline wozniacki will prevail though, i'm sure of it!!

    April 22, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Reply

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