At the Net: Wozniacki's right where she should be

11:16 AM, Apr 26, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Caroline Wozniacki fans shouldn't be upset that she's no longer a top-five star. She's actually right around where she should be ... at No. 10 in the world.

Wozniacki surprised the tennis faithful in October 2010 when she somehow ascended to No. 1 on the planet. And it became pretty obvious why she was able to do so.

Lacking any major weapons, such as a big shot, the defensive-minded quick- footed counter-puncher from Denmark reached the top of the women's game with dogged determination. But also because it was a down time in women's tennis.

Serena Williams was battling injuries (and perhaps a lack of interest). Maria Sharapova was on the mend from shoulder surgery. Victoria Azarenka had yet to fully emerge. And Belgian greats Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters were in-and- out of the game at that point.

Enter Wozniacki.

All of this helped open the door for the human backboard, who is probably best known right now for being the girlfriend of current world No. 2 and former world No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy (has anyone referred to the pair yet as Roroline or Roryline?).

Wozniacki actually held the No. 1 ranking for 67 weeks (non-consecutive) and became the first and only Scandinavian woman to accomplish the feat.

The charming Dane, behind a quality two-handed backhand, had been a model of consistency for a few years before her game started to tail off last season.

She first emerged back in 2008 by finishing as a year-end No. 12, and by 2009, the daughter of Polish athletes was a U.S. Open runner-up who finished the year at No. 4 and was hungry for more.

Note: Wozniacki's father, Piotr, was a professional soccer player; her mother, Anna, played volleyball for the Polish national team; and her older brother, Patrik, is a pro soccer player in Denmark.

Wozniacki finished as a back-to-back year-end No. 1 in 2010 and 2011, but most tennis experts would agree she was one of the weakest No. 1s in the history of the sport.

Enter the resurgence of Serena and Maria, sprinkle in the emergence of Azarenka, and tack on the comeuppance of Agnieszka Radwanska, Li Na, Angelique Kerber, Sara Errani, Petra Kvitova, etc., and you can see why Wozniacki took a hit in the rankings.

It was nice while it lasted, but the nine-year pro will not likely make a return trip to No. 1 and would have to be very lucky to make a return into the top five if you ask me.

Caroline's a good player, a very good player, but she should never have made it all the way to the top, at least not in a perfect world. And, of course, our world is anything but that.

The 22-year-old has still only reached one Grand Slam final more and she's never won one. As a matter of fact, she hasn't come close to winning one since her run into the U.S. Open final four years ago. And she hasn't reached a major semifinal since the 2011 Open. She's also never reached the semis at half of the majors -- the French Open and Wimbledon.

In her last four Slams, Wozniacki hasn't gotten past the fourth round, including back-to-back opening-round losses at last year's Wimbledon and U.S. Open. This doesn't sound like a current legitimate threat at the big shows.

With all due respect, Wozniacki did reach a quality final at the big California desert tourney at Indian Wells last month (lost to Sharapova), but she's also suffered 2013 losses against the likes of Ksenia Pervak, Qiang Wang, Garbine Muguruza, Stefanie Voegele and Carla Suarez Navarro. Could anyone pick any of these women out of a lineup? I'm not so sure Wozniacki could.

All 10 of Wozniacki's tournaments this year have ended with a loss, which is a far cry from her "heyday," when she was winning six titles a year, in 2010 and 2011.

Those days appear to be gone given the game's current climate, especially with the "Big Three" -- Serena, Maria and Vika -- having their way right now on the circuit.

But don't feel too bad for the 20-time WTA titlist Wozniacki, who was No. 1 in the world for a nice stretch and has pocketed more than $15 million in prize money alone.

She's also collected a tidy little sum off the court, as all the big names do. According to Forbes two years ago, she was the second-highest earning female athlete in the world, behind only Sharapova. Wozniacki has endorsement deals with -- count 'em -- Adidas, Compeed, Rolex, Danske Invest, Oriflame, Turkish Airlines, Proactiv, Sony Ericsson, Yonex and e-Boks.

I like Wozniacki. I like her game. But it should come as no shock that she's having trouble moving back up in the rankings. And No. 1 is certainly a thing of the past.

The Sports Network

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