Caroline Wozniacki went out of the French Open yesterday with a whimper. Is her time at the top of the game nearly over?
It's been a great run for the Great Dane of late. But her early departure from a wide open Roland Garros draw brings the same old questions to roost. Will she ever win a Grand Slam? Or, better yet, what does she need to do to improve her chances of doing so? For three years Wozniacki has had little trouble winning titles, and she's proven that by winning 16 titles since 2008, which is the most in the women's game ahead of Serena (9) and Dementieva (8) in that period.
Still, even as Wozniacki approaches $10 million in prize money, and maintains her stranglehold on the No. 1 ranking, she is becoming known more for what she can't do then what she can do. It's unfortunate in a way, but it is the lay of the land when you are 10th on the all-time list in terms of weeks at No. 1 like Wozniacki is.
I'd love to continue hypothesizing on Wozniacki, but I feel that Lindsay Davenport's comments on Wozniacki during an interview with Tennis Channel's Bill Macatee sum the whole situation up nicely, and even provide Wozniacki with a blueprint for backing up her ranking someday when it really matters -- at a Slam.
Here is Bill's question followed by Lindsay's comments below:
Bill: Obviously she's been No. 1, there have been the questions about being at the top of the game technically without winning a Grand Slam. Does she play too much tennis? I mean is she just tired by the time she gets here?
Lindsay: Well certainly. She played 5 of the 6 weeks leading into the French Open, including the last 4 weeks in a row, and even played a match last Saturday in Brussels, so she overplays but, the real question mark for her is: She's No. 1 in the world and she wins a lot of tournaments but is she going to take the risk? Is she going to add to her game to try and win the elusive Grand Slam?
She's going to have to try and become more offensive. That means moving up in court positioning and trying to flatten that forehand. But those are major changes and she's had a lot of success, but you just don't see the Grand Slam coming until she's willing to take more risk.
My thoughts precisely. Caroline's doing great with what she has, and she deserves major credit for it, but she seems either happy with how it's going (admittedly I'd be okay with $10 million in Prize money too) or unable or unwilling to change her game.
Caroline's come farther than anybody thought she would on a purely defensive game, but the door keeps closing on her at the Slams, so it's time for her and her brain trust to skip a few tournaments and start making improvements to a game that quite frankly has gone stale.